Burma Army Strike Hits Laiza, Three Civilians Killed

Villagers tend to several people who were hit by a Burma government mortar strike hit Laiza several minutes before. (Photo: Zen Myat Laphai / The Irrawaddy)

Villagers tend to several people who were hit by a Burma government mortar strike hit Laiza several minutes before. (Photo: Zen Myat Laphai / The Irrawaddy)

LAIZA, KACHIN STATE—Two artillery strikes by the Burmese government army hit Laiza town on Monday morning and exploded in a civilian area where Kachin villagers were sitting around a fire. According to initial reports, at least three people, including a teenager, were killed in the strike, while another four were injured.

Around 8 am Monday, this reporter heard incoming artillery fire and saw a strike hit a group of villagers who were warming themselves around a fire in the center of town. As the 105-mm howitzer grenade exploded they were tossed through the air and pierced with shrapnel. The second strike hit another house nearby, where several villagers were injured.

Villagers and Kachin rebel soldiers ran towards the victims, who were lying amid pools of blood, their bodies covered with ash and dust from the blast. One man was instantly killed in the strike, while a teenager and one adult reportedly died later at the local hospital. Four other villagers, including a toddler, were seriously injured.

After the strike fear gripped the town, and on Monday morning many of the Kachin villagers talked about leaving Laiza and crossing into China to escape further attacks by the Burmese government.

More than 15,000 internally displaced persons had fled their villages several months ago to seek refuge in Laiza, a small town on the Burma-China border where the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has its headquarters. About 20,000 residents are also believed to be living in the town.

Monday’s attack seems to indicate that the Burmese army is increasingly prepared to use heavy firepower near the Kachin rebel headquarters, despite the presence of thousands of villagers.

Authorities in neighboring Yunnan Province, in China, announced on Sunday that they were preparing for an influx of Kachin refugees due to the increase in the fighting, Chinese media reported.

Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture authorities told the Global Times that they had prepared four camps with emergency supplies near Nabang town, which could receive about 10,000 refugees.

Laiza and Nabang are two small Kachin towns separated by a river, which demarcates the border between Burma and China.

The Global Times reported that all trade between the towns had come to a halt due to the fighting and it quoted a local trader who said that “All business people from Nabang have run away” from Laiza.

In recent weeks, fighting in Burma’s northern Kachin State has intensified and the government has launched frequent airstrikes on KIA positions using fighter jets and helicopters, in an attempt to gain control of the strategically important mountains around Laiza valley.

On Friday, Kachin rebels claimed they shot down one of the army’s Russian-made Mi-35 helicopter gunships. The government confirmed that the helicopter had crashed but said the accident had occurred due to engine failure. Three soldiers on board were reportedly killed.

Following the crash, Kachin rebels feared the government might prepare heavy, retaliatory strikes.

5 Responses to Burma Army Strike Hits Laiza, Three Civilians Killed

  1. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Finally Min Aung Hlaing is KILLING INNOCENT and UNARMED Kachin people now!
    I have read some days ago Min Aung Hlaing has NO PLANS to TAKE LAIZA much less KILL the Kachin people in the town of course.
    And the Chinese are OPENING REFUGEE CAMPS for the DISPLACED PEOPLE of LAIZA as well they say.
    In case LAIZA FALLS the CHINESE WILL FLOOD the TOWN and Kachin State,as well, any bets?
    And Myitsone Dam Project, rails, roads and pipelines amongst other Chinese interests in Kachin State will CONTINUE to MEET the DEADLINE in 2013 of course.
    The FALL of LAIZA (Kachin State) to Min Aung Hlaing’s hordes would certainly PAVE the WAY for the communists in Beijing to ESTABLISH their ENCLAVE in Kachin State as well.
    They have Wa State, Shan State and Kokang in their BELTS already.
    Where is Daw Suu at the moment?
    This is NATIONAL URGENCY where the country’s SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY and FUTURE (posterity) IS AT STAKE and IN JEOPARDY as well lest she forgets.
    As the CHOSEN NATIONAL LEADER she has the RIGHT and OBLIGATION as well to PLAY HER PART in this NATIONAL CAUSE and URGENCY of course.
    And she NEEDS NO INVITATION as well for that matter as well I say.
    FAILING to DO the RIGHT THING, at the RIGHT TIME and RIGHT NOW as well would certainly COST HER DEARLY, THROWN INTO THE THROES of HISTORY in the same league as Ne Win, Than Shwe and his lot at Naypyidaw and ROT in the BOTTOM BOWELS of HELL after ANSWERING for DERELICTION of DUTY if not TREASON least of all I say.

  2. Thein Sein government is responsible for this crime with Aung San Suu Kyi commiting sins of omissions all along. it is ironic that the UK is digging up in Kachin capital for there buried Spitfies and their diplomats are also supporting this initiative. The USA is also wanting to look for MIAs in the Kachin state at a time of sad conflict for those who supported freedom and the Allies in the war!

  3. lying is the nature of Burmese government. No wonder! We all ethnic group should fight together against the brutal government.They want to split our mind by persuading other while one is beaten to dead. Don’t be so happy, folk, they will take us one by one.This is their plan.

  4. We ask for our life but we are given death. We pledge for freedom but we are given prison. We request for peace but we are driven to be homeless. We cry for democracy but we are handed dictatorship. We beg for food but we are provided bullets. This is Burma.

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