Huge Explosion at KIA Arms Depot in Northern Myanmar

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 23 September 2020

Yangon—A Kachin Independence Army (KIA) armory exploded in Ja Htu Kawng in the rebel group’s territory on Monday, according to its information officer, Colonel Naw Bu.

“The explosion was due to poor maintenance. [Witnesses] said a short circuit caused the fire. At first, they tried to put out the fire but soon they feared an explosion and fled before the armory blew up,” said Col. Naw Bu.

No one was injured, he said. The depot mainly housed substandard, old and unusable weapons and ammunition, but some parts can be used to manufacture new arms.

A video showing a huge blast went viral on social media amid unconfirmed reports that the Arakan Army (AA), an ally of the KIA, was responsible for the explosion as it carried out mine attacks on the depot. The KIA lost valuable weapons in the explosion, the rumors claimed. The Irrawaddy could not independently confirm the reports.

As the government has declared the AA a terrorist organization, The Irrawaddy was not able to contact the armed group for a comment.

“Most of the unusable weapons were destroyed in the explosion. Heavy weapons 120mm rocket launchers were destroyed.  Accurate information will not leak. The rumors were incorrect. No one here will give information. What is being said is incorrect,” said Col. Naw Bu.

The KIA said it will investigate the explosion and take action against those in charge of the depot.

Myanmar’s military spokesman, Major General Zaw Min Tun, said the Tatmadaw (military) heard about the explosion in the KIA-controlled area.

“We heard that an arsenal exploded due to short circuits in Ja Htu Kawng and many arms and ammunition were lost. We don’t know the details,” said the military spokesman.

Ja Htu Kawng is around a 10-minute drive from the KIA’s administrative headquarters in Laiza and houses the armed group’s military headquarters.

KIA has not signed a ceasefire with the government and Tatmadaw and is still in the process of negotiating a bilateral ceasefire with the government.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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