Govt Troops, KIA Engage in Fresh Clashes

By Kyaw Kha 27 March 2013

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) engaged in fresh clashes with government troops on Monday morning in an area under the control of KIA Brigade 4 in northern Shan State, according to KIA sources.

La Nan, the spokesperson for the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), told The Irrawaddy that Infantry Battalions (IB) 145 and 290 of the Burmese army’s Northeastern Command approached outposts belong to the KIA’s Battalion 17 on Sunday evening and fighting broke out for about an hour. Fighting resumed the next morning when the Burmese forces launched an offensive with three columns, he said.

“It was like a threat when the government troops approached our outposts the other day. We felt that we were pushed into a tight corner, so we were forced to fight,” said La Nan, adding that the government troops used heavy weapons in the exchange.

Based on ground information his headquarters had received, he said that the Monday clash that started at around 6 am was quite furious. No casualties were reported from either side, he added.

Armed engagements between the two armies have reportedly decreased in most KIA-controlled areas since preliminary meetings for political talks between the KIO and the government were held on Feb. 4 and March 11-12. The KIA said it welcomes such developments.

However, it claims that at least five small-scale clashes have occurred since those meetings because of government troops approaching areas in its Brigade 4 and 2 territories and carrying out road construction.

The Irrawaddy contacted the President’s Office and the government’s peace committee for comment about the incident on Monday morning, but did not receive a response.

The KIO spokesperson also added that the recent clashes will not have any impact on the next meeting between the KIO and the government’s Union Peacemaking Working Committee, which the two sides agreed to hold before April 10.

However, he said that the coming meeting should cover situations in frontline areas as well as focusing on other issues.

“These clashes are the consequences of their military movement, so this needs to be addressed in order to proceed to the next level of talks between the KIO and government,” stressed La Nan.