A drive-by bombing at a police station in Hpakant Township injured four civilians on Thursday in the latest violence to hit troubled Kachin State in northern Burma.
The blast, at around 6 pm on Thursday, injured four family members of a police official at the station in Lone Kin village. No police officers were hurt in the attack, according to sources at the police station.
“A [unknown] motorcyclist threw the explosive into our station from the road,” Tin Ko Ko, an official at the Lone Kin station, told The Irrawaddy on Friday. “At that time, family members of a police officer were staying at the station. The bomb went off and hurt four people. They were hit in the stomachs and legs.”
The victims of the attack—Nang Hseng, Ma Htet, Pon Sar and Pon Ti Aung, all between the ages of 20 and 50—were treated at a hospital in the town of Hpakant, the official said.
It was not immediately clear whether the incident is linked to recent hostilities between the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army. An investigation is being carried out by the local police force in Lone Kin, and all government offices and police stations in the Hpakant region have been instructed to be on alert for possible additional attacks.
“It is not good to attack us in a lawlessness way. We are trying to track down the criminal,” said Tin Ko Ko.
On Thursday, intense fighting took place near the villages of Aung Bar Lay and Tagaung in Hpakant Township, a jade-rich region about 50 miles northwest of the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. The clashes forced about 1,000 civilians to flee the area, with the displaced sheltering at local churches.
Tensions between the Burma Army and the KIA have been mounting since KIA troops arrested three Burmese police officers and briefly detained Kaman Du Naw, the Kachin State transportation minister, on Wednesday. The minister was released later the same day, but the three police officers are still being held by the KIA.
The KIA is one of two major ethnic armed groups that lack a bilateral ceasefire with the government. Prior to this week’s clashes, the latest and most deadly incident in years saw the Burma Army shell a rebel training academy outside Myitkyina in November, killing 22 cadets.
The fighting in Kachin State comes even as ethnic rebel leaders and the government negotiate to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement next month. The plan to sign an accord on Union Day, Feb. 12, has been viewed with varying degrees of enthusiasm and credulity by Burma’s ethnic armed groups.