Burmese Army Says It Will Stop Attacks on Kachin

A Burmese Air-force jet pounds KIA’s Hkaya Bum hilltop base a few kilometers outside Laiza town. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—Burma’s military declared Friday it will stop its attacks on ethnic Kachin rebels in the country’s north because it has achieved its goal of securing an army outpost there.

Whether fighting will actually cease remains unclear, since the Kachin Independence Army has not yet made a similar declaration.

State television cited a statement from the government’s information team saying the military will stop what it calls mopping-up operations in the area near its base at Lajayang at 6 a.m. Saturday (2300 GMT Friday). The army called on the Kachin to instruct their guerrillas not to launch attacks on government troops.

The army launched an offensive on Christmas Day after Kachin guerrillas rejected a demand they stop blocking government supply convoys.

The two sides have been fighting for 1 1/2 years, but the latest combat represented a major escalation because the government employed fighter planes and helicopter gunships in its attacks. Friday’s declaration said air power was used to try to pinpoint attacks on Kachin military positions and avoid civilian targets.

The upsurge in fighting drew calls from the international community for the two sides to put down their arms and negotiate, but there was no public indication of any direct talks taking place.

Tension with ethnic minorities fighting for greater autonomy in Burma is considered one of the biggest major long-term challenges for reformist President Thein Sein, who inherited power in 2011 from the army, which ruled for almost half a century.

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 Thein Sein’s administration.

A cease-fire that held for nearly two decades broke down in June 2011 after the Kachin refused to abandon a strategic base near a hydropower plant that is a joint venture with a Chinese company. The conflict has forced about 100,000 Kachin from their homes since then, and many are in camps near the Kachin headquarters in Laiza near the Chinese border.

The recent fighting flared up after the Kachin rejected a government demand that they stop attacking convoys delivering supplies to the army base at Lajayang. The guerrillas contended that the convoys carried ammunition that could be used to attack their own nearby Laiza headquarters. The government then launched its offensive to clear the road to its base.

Friday’s government announcement said altogether 35 soldiers had died and 190 were wounded due to Kachin attacks on convoys. The total number of Kachin casualties is not known, though the group’s supporters said it included civilians.

Friday’s announcement cited Commander-in-Chief Vice Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing as saying the army was obeying Thein Sein’s order of December 2011 to stop attacks against the Kachin except in self-defense, but that tensions could be reduced only when both sides stopped fighting, so the Kachin should also instruct their troops not to launch attacks. The general said that since December 2011, there had been 1,095 skirmishes with the Kachin, who also destroyed and damaged roads and rail lines.

7 Responses to Burmese Army Says It Will Stop Attacks on Kachin

  1. Peking probably said “That’s enough for now”

  2. Unnecessary war was dividing us. It left more scars which will take time to heal. Wound after wound, scar after scar. Damage has been piling up. What was the purpose of this war? Lives had been lost and pain is going on. I hope, they all learn some lessons.

  3. Why does bama military thugs occupy Kachin military posts which are previously belonged to Kachin? Why bama military thugs need to transport their supply to Kachin land? Previously, it is not necessary but it might seen to be that they want to re-open the Chinese hydro power. Bama military thugs ( rapist than shwe) does not want to divide his portion ( Chinese money ) to Kachin ethnics although hydro powers are built in Kachin land which is robbed by bama military thugs. Than shwe wants free lunch from Kachin who have voluntarily signed panglong agreement for inclusion of union of Burma. Kachin trusts Aung san. However, than shwe think kachin right and autonomy in Panglong agreement is out of date and invalid after Aung san’s death. After Khin Nyunt’s imprisonment, Khin Nyunt’s ceasefire agreement is out of date and invalid again. After thein sein retires , that coming ceasefire agreement, designed by min aung laing will be invalid again. That so called vicious cycle is the bama military thugs’ rule of law and moral and ethical principle in their low standard military academy school in Maymyo (DSA), Burma.

  4. I hope Army and KIA both sides will hold ceasefire for sake of innocent lives of Kachin and other ethnics’ civilian.
    I don’t want to see anymore innocent civilians fleeing from their home. Government and KIA must let NGO to deliver foods and medicines for those unfortunate war victims as soon as possible. Also KIA and Government should resume peace negotiation as soon as possible and negotiation with trust and openness. KIA or Army will not gain any goal from fighting war.
    Only peace can bring together and build up prosperous Kachin state.

  5. Myanmar military, If KIA want a war and no peace talk, kill all of them. They must have supporters at the back. They have been killing our people, their own people and our soldiers. As long as they are alive, our people will not be able to live peacefully to march towards democracy! FINISH THEM! Irrawaddy, it’s your responsibility to report correct information of both sides. Do not favour KIA/KOA alone.

  6. Along with killing people, the worst efforts of KIA or whatever the name is that destroying of infrastructures of the country, road, rails, electrical power stations and lines, communication towers. It shows that these group are not working for the people. They don’t care people. Why should we care for them? People should fight back together with the military. The Government offer peace talks so many times. They don’t accept when other groups have done. Why?

  7. Army was obeying the Thein Sein order on December 2011? Is it take the one year to obey the order ? I think some general decide to obey the order finally after they received the candy from thein sein. Who is obey to whom? Who is in real power? Sorry Mr President,I am confuse.

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