Kachin rebels and the Burmese military are continuing to clash in northern Burma after holding talks with government representatives earlier this week.
The Kachin Independent Organisation (KIO) reported that skirmishes are continuing to break out between the group’s armed wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese military after meeting with government negotiators in the Chinese border town of Ruili on Monday.
The KIO’s spokesperson La Nan said a small-scale firefight erupted in the KIA’s Brigade-4 territory in northern Shan state on Wednesday.
“It wasn’t a big fight, but the Burmese army columns have been constantly active. There are three Burmese army battalions, in different columns, that have been chasing our troops from Brigade 4’s Battalion 9 between 4pm and 6pm on [Wednesday]. We clashed with them,” said La Nan.
“We previously directed our troops to avoid clashing with government troops, but the [fight] was inevitable as they kept trailing us.”
He said another skirmish also broke out in the KIA Brigade-1’s area north of the rebel stronghold in Laiza on the same day.
“There was also one clash inside our Brigade-1’s territory when government forces came to attack a base belonging to Battalion-10. They withdrew after firing at the base so it wasn’t a very intense fight,” said the KIO spokesperson.
More clashes have reportedly erupted in Kachin state’s jade country near Hpakant, where looters have been running amok after KIA troops withdrew from the area in late January.
Min Zaw Oo, the director of the Myanmar Peace Centre, said the government’s Peace Making Committee proposed opening a direct channel of communication with the KIA to prevent fighting in the future during the talks in China on Monday.
“During the discussion [in Ruili], the [Committee] stressed that a lack of direct communication with the KIA was causing misunderstandings and proposed to open a channel. [Union Minister] Aung Min has officially assigned duties, with his signature, to several individuals to establish communication with the KIA, but the KIA has yet to respond,” said Min Zaw Oo.
Earlier this week, the KIA, accompanied by fellow United Nationalities Federal Council representatives, sat down with government negotiators; however, no ceasefire was officially inked.
The talks followed the fall of the final hill station on the outskirts of Lazia, which many analysts considered the last line of defense of the Kachin stronghold.
While no ceasefire was signed, the two sides agreed to hold further talks later this month, as China continues to exert pressure on both sides to end the escalating conflict.