Burma Army Seizes KIA Mountain Outpost

By The Irrawaddy 19 December 2016

Burma Army troops seized the Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) mountaintop Gidon outpost in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township over the weekend, four months after they began offensives against the ethnic armed group.

Both sides suffered heavy casualties after the Burma Army used mortar fire and air strikes in last week’s operations to overrun Gidon that succeeded Friday, according to a Burma Army statement.

The Burma Army also captured a KIA outpost some 8km north of Gidon in Waingmaw Township on Saturday afternoon.

Vice chairman of the the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) Gen Sumlut Gun Maw said on Facebook on Saturday that the Kachin’s morale was strong and encouraged his followers not to feel sad due to the loss of the post.

He said that the love and support of the public had been seen during the Gidon fighting.

Fighting at Gidon and surrounding outposts begun in late August as the government held the Union Peace Conference in Naypyidaw, attended by the political wing of the KIA the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO).

A statement by Shan State-based Kachin Youth Organization (KYO) said the Burma Army attacks would disrupt the peace process and affect the trust of ethnic groups.

The Burma Army’s Northern Command is committed to offensives in the region for “security and stability,” military mouthpiece the Myawaddy reported Sunday.

The Burma Army accused the KIA of expanding their territories, building outposts, recruiting new soldiers, collecting taxes, arbitrarily arresting civilians, and attacking government security forces at jade and gold mines.

The Burma Army has been accused of abuses in Mong Ko of Shan State’s Muse Township following Nov. 20 offensives by the “Northern Alliance” of four ethnic armed groups that includes the KIA.

The KYO said the Burma Army arbitrarily arrested 80 local people in Mong Ko between Nov. 20 and Dec. 4 and detained them for 15 days as “human shields.”

The organization also reported that 17 civilians have been detained and executed by the Burma Army, while another 20 have been killed and 40 injured by artillery fire. More than 40 buildings, including churches, have been destroyed by government airstrikes.