Hundreds of Kachin State Villagers Flee Myanmar Junta Artillery Strikes

By The Irrawaddy 25 May 2021

Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and regime forces flared again on Monday in two different locations in Momauk Township, Kachin State, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes after artillery strikes hit their villages.

Local residents said that fierce clashes erupted in the Tarwar Kone and Kone Law areas of Momauk Township and that villagers had taken refuge in the nearby hills.

“We heard gun and artillery fire all day. As soon as artillery shells started landing in our village, we were forced to flee. But regime forces opened fire on us. Now we are hiding on the mountain near our village,” a resident from Kone Law village said.

Almost 20 artillery shells landed in Kone Law village, according to residents.

“We lost everything. Our homes were destroyed and our cattle killed by the artillery fire,” said one resident. “We are stuck here in the hills. We dare not go to town. The military will open fire on us as soon as they see us,” he said.

A 13-year-old boy named Aung De was killed after his home was hit by an artillery shell on Monday afternoon in Momauk Township.

Clashes were also reported between the KIA and junta troops in Momauk Township on Tuesday morning. A bridge located on the Mandalay-Myitkyina Road in Kachin’s Mohnyin Township was also blown up early Tuesday morning.

Last Saturday, the KIA attacked two military and police outposts around the Hkamti jade mines in Sagaing Region, killing at least two police officers and taking nine police prisoner.

Intense fighting has been taking place between the KIA and regime soldiers since late March, when the KIA seized the strategic Alaw Bum base close to the border with China from junta forces. Over 7,000 residents in Momauk Township were forced to flee their homes then, according to local churches and monasteries.

Soon after the junta’s coup, the KIA refused to recognize the military regime and warned it not to harm anti-coup protesters in Kachin State. But after junta forces killed two anti-coup protesters in the Kachin capital, Myitkyina, in March, clashes have intensified between the KIA and regime troops in Kachin and northern Shan states.

The KIA have since stormed dozens of military and police outposts across Kachin State in Waingmaw, Momauk, Hpakant, Tanai, Mogaung, Shwegu and Injangyang townships.

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