Intense fighting broke out in eastern Kachin state’s Bhamo district close to the Kachin Independence Army’s headquarters in Laiza.
Major Aung Swe Oo, military coordinator in the All-Burma Students’ Democratic Front that’s fighting alongside the KIA in northern Burma, said the Burmese Army was shelling a KIA position in Dawhpumyang village located about seven miles southwest of Laiza for most of Tuesday.
“[The Burmese Army] has been shelling [KIA positions] all day today [Sept 18] following a clash in Lajayang, where the Burmese Armywere were stationed,” said Aung Swe Oo.
“They were firing 105mm artillery shells for most of the day and some of the shells landed near Laiza. There was also another clash after midnight when they made an advance – but they withdrew by dawn.”
He said it appeared that the Burmese Army might be preparing to launch an offensive to capture all KIA defensive positions surrounding Laiza.
“Looking at the way the Burmese Army has been reinforcing troops – it seems like they are looking to capture [KIA’s] frontline bases,” he said, adding that the military has been reinforcing its troops in the area.
“Just this morning [Sept 18], more [Burmese Army] troops arrived in Naungna, near Dawhpumyang, in a dozen boats. If they started travelling in the morning, they should be here by the afternoon,” said Aung Swe Oo.
After a ceasefire broke down in June 2011, the KIA and Burmese troops have been involved in intense fighting that has displaced tens of thousands of people and tarnished the country’s ‘reform’ process.
The military has been ordered to stand down by President Thein Sein and refrain from engaging in offensives with the KIA. However, the command appears to have been largely ignored.
The government and the KIA have been unable to restart peace talks due to the two sides inability to agree on a venue to hold a future round of negotiations.