Fighting Continues Between KIA, Tatmadaw in Northern Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 17 April 2021

Fighting broke out in multiple locations between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar military in Kachin State on Friday night and Saturday morning amid the regime’s moves to reinforce its troop presence in ethnic areas.

At around 7 p.m. on Friday, the KIA attacked military (or Tatmadaw) troops near the Hpung Ing-Woi Shi area in Kachin’s Sumprabum Township, in the northernmost part of the country.

“There were at least 30 soldiers from the Myanmar military on the Sumprabum-Myitkyina Highway. Five soldiers from the military side were killed and some were injured in the attack,” a KIA officer on the ground said.

However, the officer declined to reveal casualty figures for the KIA.

The KIA also attacked a Tatmadaw convoy in Hpakant Township as it was conducting a security check on Friday evening afternoon at around 1 p.m. The KIA said that it used mines against the convoy and one truck went up in flames, resulting in three regime troops being killed.

Early on Saturday morning, a clash broke out between the KIA and Tatmadaw at a security checkpoint jointly guarded by the military, police and immigration officers in Waimaw Township in the southeast of the Kachin capital.

The KIA said it arrested three soldiers during the clash. All the security guards ran away from the security outpost after the KIA launched an attack on the checkpoint, it said.

A resident of Waimaw told The Irrawaddy the fighting lasted from 5 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. after a military column approached a village where a KIA base is located.

The KIA instructed villagers around the area to stay at home until next Tuesday and not to go outside even to tend their farms and fields, the resident said.

“After the KIA retreated from the checkpoint, Myanmar soldiers returned. Now, they are conducting intensive security checks on all civilians,” the resident added.

Military tensions have risen since late March, when the KIA seized from the Tatmadaw a strategic base in Alaw Bum near the Chinese border. The military launched several airstrikes to try and recapture the base from the KIA. However, the KIA still occupies the base and nearly 100 Myanmar military troops including a battalion commander have been killed during heavy fighting.

Clashes were also reported in Manton Township, northern Shan State on April 15. Fighting has intensified across Kachin State and northern Shan State since March 11, following the KIA’s refusal to recognize the military regime.

The regime has been reinforcing its troops in Kachin and Shan states after the armed group warned of a resumption in fighting if the Tatmadaw did not stop killing peaceful anti-coup protesters in the country.

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