Burma’s government army has detained three men it accuses of being Kachin Independence Army (KIA) operatives linked to a series of bombings in Kachin State’s jade-mining town of Hpakant earlier this month, according to the military mouthpiece Myawady News.
The men, identified as Mayang Bum Raw, Gum Ja Naw and Aung Aung, are suspected of carrying out bomb attacks targeting mining companies in Hpakant on 9 and 15 May and were taken into army custody on 19 May, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The men reportedly confessed under interrogation to being KIA operatives and informants. It was also claimed that they identified Jan Raw Tong, an ethnic Kachin woman living in the village of Htonbo in Hpakant Township, as the mastermind behind the attacks.
According to the report, the men said that Jan Raw Tong visited the home of KIA member La Jaung in the village of Janhkat, where the explosives used in the attacks were allegedly stored, on 9 May.
A subsequent attempt to arrest La Jaung failed when he escaped during a raid on his house, the newspaper said. However, it claimed that La Jaung’s step-father Than Lwin provided the location of a remote mine planted along the Hpakant-Htonbo road
Jan Raw Tong is currently on the run and her whereabouts are unknown.
In addition to the attacks earlier this month, the three men were also accused of carrying out an arson attack at Htay Myanmar jade-mining company on 7 October 2015.
The Burmese army has also blamed the KIA for a number of other recent attacks in the Hpakant area. On 16 May, soldiers on patrol near the village of Tamakan arrested a man named Aik Tu, of Hkoma village, who allegedly confessed to throwing two grenades into a local army office three days earlier, damaging the roof of the building.
Aik Tu told his interrogators that he was a jade scavenger in Hpakant when the KIA allegedly abducted him in October 2014 and gave him explosives training. He claimed the armed group threatened to kill his father if he didn’t carry out the attack.