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Burmese troops, student army engage in brief fight

The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front in northern Burma’s Kachin state reported that its troops clashed with government forces on 18 August.

La Hseng, chairman of the ABSDF’s Northern Command that is carrying out joint operations with the Kachin Independence Army’s Brigade-5 territory in Lajayang, said the group returned fire after being attacked by the Burmese army.

“It happened on [Saturday] – there is a command [centre] held by the [Burmese Army’s] 40th Infantry Battalion in Lajayang with about 70 troops. They have a shortage of food supplies and there is a joint-command base held by the ABSDF and its ally, the KIA, on the way to that position,” said La Hseng.

According to the chairman, the Burmese troops were in route to deliver supplies to the infantry’s base and launched an attack on the ABSDF units in the process.

“The 40th IB’s troops opened fire at the hill where our base is so we had to return fire,” said La Hseng.

He said the skirmish was only brief and was not as intense as clashes that erupted between the two sides in June.

According to the La Hseng, the Burmese Army has been reinforcing troops inside KIA territories and launching offences against the armed group.

“If the government wants a genuine change, then it should try to implement a nation-wide ceasefire and reconciliation plan. In accordance with our policy, we would accept a [ceasefire] if it were going to be nation-wide,” said said La Hseng.

“Otherwise, since we are the ABSDF that walks arm-in-arm with all ethnic resistance groups, we will continue to fight as long as they do.”

The ABSDF was formed by university students who took up arms against the Burmese government after the 1988 uprising and following crackdown.

At its peak in the 1990s, the student army had about 10,000 members, and waged a guerrilla campaign against government forces largely from the mountains of Karen state.

The ABSDF has been linked with the ethnic resistant movements since its formation in 1988.

In February, ABSDF representatives met with Burmese officials in Thailand to discuss a potential ceasefire; however, an agreement failed to materialise.


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