Burma’s Kachin Rebels Lose Ground Near HQ

KIA soldiers defend a hilltop position. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — A key outpost protecting the headquarters of ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Burma has fallen to government troops, a spokesman for the guerrilla group said Sunday.

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) spokesman said the hillside outpost at Hka Ya Bum, near the guerrilla group’s headquarters in the town of Laiza, was overrun Saturday afternoon.

“The army stormed the post using about 3,000 soldiers and air and artillery assaults,” said the spokesman, who asked to be identified only as Joseph.

He said in a telephone interview that heavy attacks on the post began last week, despite a ceasefire unilaterally declared by the government. Over the past few weeks, the government has pushed toward Laiza, although it insists that it has no intention of taking the town.

“The government did not live up to their own promises and they continue their attacks even today. I think their target is to totally occupy our Laiza headquarters,” he said. No casualty figures were available, he said.

The Kachin, like Burma’s other ethnic minorities, have long sought greater autonomy from the central government. They are the only major ethnic rebel group that has not reached a truce with President Thein Sein’s administration.

The military has been actively engaging the Kachin in combat for 1 1/2 years, but fighting escalated when the government began using fighter planes and helicopter gunships in its attacks starting on Christmas Day. It said it was acting in self-defense because Kachin attacks kept it from supplying its forward bases, but the Kachin say they were seeking to stop the army from attacking their Laiza headquarters, near the border with China.

The fighting has drawn concern from the United States, China and the United Nations.

On Saturday, Burma’s Foreign Ministry criticized a recent statement by the United States about the violence.

In comments published in the state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper, the ministry said it rejected the statement issued Thursday by the US Embassy that expressed “deep concern” over the ongoing violence because it failed to mention anything about “terrorist actions and atrocities committed by the KIA” and talked only about army actions.

Relations between the two countries remain uneasy despite Burma’s shift from an ostracized military state to a fledgling democracy, although Washington has relaxed most sanctions it imposed on the previous army regime because of its repressive policies.

5 Responses to Burma’s Kachin Rebels Lose Ground Near HQ

  1. To all the armed ethnic groups:
    This is the time to join together and attack the Burmese army. If Laiza is lost, then you all are lost eventually. The Burmese army is using “to kill one at a time” strategy. Once Laiza is occupied, the Burmese army will do impose something like the pressure it did to DKBA.
    When it is not too late,all the ethnic armed groups should be aware of it. Or, you guys will all end up in the trap of Burmese army.

  2. The escalating war in Kachin State is the war for all the citizens of Burma, for all the minorities which fight for greater autonomy. All the ethnic parliament members in Naypyidaw should demand the end of war. All the Burmese in third countries, especially ethnic groups, should demonstrate in front of the Burmese Embassy and Chinese Embassy.

  3. The Burmese army may win the battle, but will lose the war. The ongoing war and the Burmese army’s ethnic cleansing policy will only escalate animosity and hatreds towards the army and the government. There will never be peace in Burma.

  4. What are other armed ethnic groups doing when the KIA is facing armageddon? Where is their treaties and where is the Federal Amy that they said they would form in the last couple of years?
    Only if all ethnic armed resistances are uninamously grouped in one force, the Burmese army can be stopped.

  5. The ongoing war in Kachin state shows how high ethnic minorities are diversed. While UNFC is proposing peace talk with the unhumane govt which only knows “divide and conquer” strategy against ethnic people, it would be perhaps likely to end the capture of Laiza. For now, the single best way is, all the united forces should help KIA fight against the Burmese army as quick as possible. If waged wars against the Burmese army from their owned regions at the same time, there is possibility that this game can be won in much easier way.

    With that knowing this situation, the odd still remains that why the ethnic groups only want to seek their gains (falling down at the traps of the crooked regime-cum-govt) by which they will never even get what they fight for, ask for and what they want.

    Over decades ago, the strategy used by ethnic rebel leaders never came to fruition but still remained stubborn. The frustration, suffering and persecution of the 43% occupied ethnic population will continue on…….!

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