Govt Troops Move Closer to Laiza, as Planes Pound Targets

A KIA soldier stands in a trench while houses in the village of Nam Sang Yang burn in the background on Jan. 5, 2013. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burmese government troops have begun a push to seize a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) outpost located just west of the group’s headquarters at Laiza, a day after Laiza itself reportedly came under artillery attack.

The new offensive, which targets a KIA position on a hill called Hpun Pyan Bum, began at noon today, according to Min Htay, a major serving in the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), an ally of the KIA.

“We are still fighting. We don’t know yet how many people have been injured as the fighting hasn’t stopped yet,” said Min Htay, speaking to The Irrawaddy by phone from Laiza.

Other sources reported at around 5:30 pm local time that three aircraft had begun pounding targets on the front line near Laiza. No further details of the aerial attacks were available as of 6 pm.

According to Min Htay, the Burmese army fired eight 105-mm artillery shells at Laiza at around 9 am on Sunday. The government has denied this claim, but local sources say there has been a significant buildup of Burmese troops in the area since airstrikes last week cleared the way for an advance on the KIA stronghold.

On Friday, one ABSDF soldier was killed while attempting to ambush government troops who were setting up artillery guns at a captured KIA outpost on a hill simply called “771,” according to Min Htay. He added that at least three KIA troops were also killed in the failed attempt to retake the outpost.

The latest escalation of the year-and-a-half-old conflict in Kachin State has created a tense atmosphere in Laiza, where the streets are quiet and some shops have closed, according to  residents of the town. The KIA has ordered a high alert, and some residents have even begun to build bunkers, said local sources.

Schools have also been closed since the recent attacks began, and the KIA has used a local television station to tell civilians which road to use to flee the area in the event of aerial bombardment.

There are four refugee camps in and around Laiza, housing at least 15,000 people. Many in the camps have begun to express a strong fear of air attacks, the threat of which has already driven many local businessmen to abandon the town.

The fighting between the KIA and government forces began in June 2011 after the collapse of a 17-year-old ceasefire. Repeated attempts to negotiate an end to the conflict have all ended in failure.

Other groups have urged the government to renew its efforts to stop the fighting. On Monday, Mya Aye of the 88 Generation Students group said the government should show a strong commitment to political talks in order to build trust with the Kachin.

“The government cannot solve the ethnic problem using force,” he said. “If the army captures the KIA headquarters, it will only create more ill will among Burma’s ethnic peoples.”

Zen Myat contributed reporting.

12 Responses to Govt Troops Move Closer to Laiza, as Planes Pound Targets

  1. Previous ceasefire agreement ended.Not willing to sign the new truce agreement with new government.Then asked all the government troops to move out from the region. Then start ambushing,attacking,blown-off the bridges,dams,high power cable towers,rail roads,etc..No show up of the leader at the peace-talk.Then demanded for political dialoque ( first step to demand full autonomous region with its own army. Then to declare self administered Independant State).After their key post was crushed,start requesting international communities to get in. Then asked Daw Aung San Su Kyi to meddle.Then US,then UN,then ASEAN…What the hell is going on with KIA leaders? Who are behind you? Definitely,not chinese.

  2. It appears the United Nations and their owners the international business corporations of “west which includes Japan and Korea” has sanctioned “annihilation” of Laiza at last. Thousands of civilians will die. UN will make usual oh-so-bad tut-tut’s and Americans will denounce once it is clear their charges are really winning as well as quality of pictures and videos coming out the grotesque massacre to follow.

    Burmese will rejoice as their Papa’s Dam and Pipes are now going ahead.

    But seed of ruthless violence would have grown into a large tree with so many branches.

    This is the time for the majority Burmese to show their disapproval of ruthless killings and violence.

  3. I don’t know why the ethnic trust Thein Sein’s government? Are they crazy or Thein Sein is too clever?

  4. Bama government does not want to honor panglong agreement. Instead, they want to talk with Kachin how to use the kachin land and resources for the benefit of than sein first for their initiative ceasefire agreement. No foreign investment will get confidence in all ethnic lands if there is no obligation of panglong agreement.

  5. Once cheat, always cheat. So, do not sign any paperwork with them. Because they will surely cheat again.

  6. I remember US troops dropping thousands of WMD smart bombs and precision missiles onto Iraqi places on the ground that Iraq was developing WMD that threatened global peace.

    Wars has never been good. There are always reasons (fake or truth or both) behind the conflicts. And behinds these reasons there are always desires, prides, ego, narrow-mindedness, majority pressure and all those human-values.

  7. Kachin has been colonized by the Majority Burmese since 1948. This struggle is modern era Colonial liberalization effort of the Kachin from Brutal Barbaric gun wielded Burma. As long as the Kachins are denied their promised rights, there will be no peace. Weakening of the KIO will create numerous uncontrollable factions of Terrorists with no leaders which will turn Burma to Pathomthani or even worse which will destroy all dreams of development, business and modern Burma. All businesses heading to Burma must be very careful and consider this fact. The Chinese companies in Kachins and Shans have already found the disasters which will spread down to the whole Burma soon unless the military operation of the Government is not stopped, and not come up with the Time bound post ceasefire political Agenda After the Peace Agreement which is demanded by the Kachins as the Condition to sign the PEace Accord.

  8. The army & government are so corrupt in so many places that it is doubtful that reform can come from the top. The army in particular is pretty much a collection of out of control evil warlords who happen to dress in a similar manner.

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