Burma

Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar Regime Forces Clash in Hpakant

By The Irrawaddy 18 July 2022

Clashes continued for a second day on Monday between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township, with the military carrying out air raids, according to residents.

KIA troops clashed with junta forces near Sel Zin Village as the latter were advancing toward Hong Pa village-tract, and the regime carried out aerial attacks on Monday morning, residents said.

“Clashes have been ongoing since yesterday evening. The military suffered casualties. There have been casualties among locals as the regime dropped bombs from the air. The KIA also clashed with the Myanmar military on the Myitkyina bypass,” a Hpakant resident told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Local residents have been forced to flee their homes as the regime has carried out air and artillery attacks since Monday morning. Details of civilian casualties were not immediately available, said residents.

Daily patrols have been reported following a KIA attack on the base of a junta-controlled militia group in Waingmaw Township in Kachin. Locals in the east of Waingmaw Township are concerned about the possibility of renewed fighting.

On Thursday last week, KIA Brigade 5 troops raided and torched an ethnic Lisu people’s militia base between Waingmaw and Sadone town amid allegations that it is cooperating with the regime.

The base, according to the KIA Information Department and some local residents, is an armed camp of the Lisu National Development Party (LNDP) led by U Shwe Min. The Irrawaddy was unable to contact U Shwe Min for comment.

Since the attack on the Lisu militia base, the Myanmar military’s Light Infantry Battalion 58 in the east of Waingmaw has reinforced itself and has been conducting patrols daily. The battalion was attacked by the KIA and the Kachin People’s Defense Force on July 29, 2021.

A villager from Waingmaw Township said: “I saw an open truck carrying around 20 armed junta troops driving up there recently.”

An ethnic affairs analyst said the KIA attacked the junta-affiliated Lisu militia base in order to expand its control of the road linking Sadone and Waingmaw.

“Lisu militias are headed by Shwe Min. They are not that strong. Shwe Min’s group took arms from Zakhung Ting Ying and surrendered to Myanmar’s military. The military will use the Lisu militia if a clash happens in that area. But I don’t think the group can be used in other places,” said the analyst.

Zakhung Ting Ying is the leader of the New Democratic Army-Kachin militia group, which split from the KIA in 1993 and made peace with the previous military regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council. The group came under military control when it transformed itself to a Border Guard Force in 2009.

U Shwe Min’s group again split from Zakhung Ting Ying’s group to form a political party. The LNDP is estimated to have around 100 armed troops, said another ethnic affairs analyst.

If the military regime uses Lisu militia members to carry out operations between Waingmaw and Sadone, armed clashes with the KIA will be inevitable, the analyst said.

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