Kachin villagers abandon homes amid intense fighting

Kachin villagers abandon homes amid intense fighting

Residents of Kachin State’s Mansi Township were forced from their homes on Monday amid continued fighting between Burmese troops and Kachin rebels.

Schools and government offices were closed in Mansi, as the fighting between government troops and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers that began last week intensified.

In this video, light arms fire and heavy artillery can be heard as the Burmese army and KIA clash in Mansi Township. 

Hka Aung, a local Christian pastor, told DVB on Monday that heavy fighting was reported between the villages of Lanjabum and Padaw, about 8 kilometers from Mansi, as Burmese troops advanced on the KIA outpost in the area, sending local residents from the town’s outskirts fleeing for safety.

“Residents in Mansi’s Pyin Oo Lwin and Ywarthigon wards have fled their homes amid the fighting, seeking safety in neighbouring Kawngra ward and also to Bhamo. The Burmese army has set up artillery on a hill in the centre of the town and is shelling the KIA positions – every time they fired, the doors and windows of nearby homes shook,” said Hka Aung.

He added that government troops had taken over and positioned themselves in local government offices, police station, town markets and schools, forcing their closure.

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“We are assuming more intense fighting will follow – the Burmese army has mobilised quite a few columns from Bhamo and they are now taking up positions inside the police station, town’s market and also schools,” he said, adding that the Burmese forces have also launched artillery attacks on KIA positions in Mongkwang, about 25 kilometers from the town,” he said.

Last week three civilians, including a husband and wife couple, were killed in Mansi when fighting erupted between the government troops and KIA. A child and elderly woman were also injured in the crossfire, with the child sustaining shrapnel wounds to the collarbone.

Fighting between government forces and various rebel groups in Kachin State and northern Shan State continues despite the government and ethnic armed groups working to confirm a date to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement.

The Burmese army and KIA were unavailable for comment.

Read more about the KIA here.

Read more about the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement here.

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