Yangon — The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a major ethnic armed group based in Kachin State, has occupied a strategically important hill in Bhamo District held by Myanmar’s military, KIA information officer Colonel Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy.
KIA Battalion 30 attacked the military outpost on Alaw Hill on Wednesday at 5pm and had taken control of the hill by around 4am on Thursday, said Col. Naw Bu.
“Alaw Hill is relatively close to the Chinese border. From the military point of view, it is relatively strategic. British troops deployed there during World War II. The reports that we have occupied three outposts are untrue. The rest were just groups of sentries guarding the outpost,” said Col. Naw Bu.
The attack was made in retaliation to the military’s attacks on KIA outposts near Laiza, which are under the control of KIA headquarters, he said.
“The troops of the military regime fired at our outposts on Hpalap Hill [near Laiza] with artillery throughout the night on March 22. They fired again at Battalion 3 in Sadone the following day. They have been carrying out assaults for two to three days.
“Their artillery shells fell on our cantonment. What’s worse, artillery shells also fell on Hkau Sau [internal displacement] camp [on the Chinese border] and in Chinese territory,” said Col. Naw Bu.
The KIA claimed that two artillery shells fell on Chinese territory on Tuesday. Myanmar’s military has made no comment.
“We heard gunshots through Wednesday night. But everything is fine in the town. Everyone is safe,” said a Laiza resident.
In response to heightened tensions, residents at the Weichyai displacement camp dug bomb shelters this month.
The military and KIA were in the process of negotiating a ceasefire before the Feb. 1 coup. The Kachin armed group asked the military’s Northern Command not to harm peaceful Kachin protesters opposing the military regime.
Two civilians were shot dead in a crackdown by the security forces on anti-regime protesters in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina, on March 8. A third protester was shot dead in Hpakant on March 14.
Three days after the Myitkyina killings, the KIA raided a military outpost in the jade-mining hub, Hpakant, and attacked another military outpost in Injangyang Township on March 15.
Military tensions are also escalating in northern Shan State between the two sides.
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