One of the major ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), has been attacking ethnic Lisu militias in Waingmaw Township in Kachin State since mid-July.
KIA Brigade 5 has been attacking at least three Lisu militia bases along the road between Waingmaw and Sadone since July 14, alleging that they are cooperating with the regime.
Militias from the Lisu National Development Party (LNDP) led by U Shwe Min and junta troops are deployed at the outposts, said Waingmaw residents.
KIA troops attacked and torched a Lisu militia base to the south of the Waingmaw-Sadone road on Tuesday morning, according to KIA sources.
Some shells landed on a village during the fighting and villagers fled their homes, said residents.
KIA troops and the Kachin People’s Defense Force attacked a Lisu militia base by the road in the east of Waingmaw on July 28. At least six Lisu militia members and a KIA fighter died in the two hours of fighting, said a resident.
“Militias do not have heavy guns and they only defended themselves from inside the base with rifles, as they were surrounded. I heard it was the KIA and PDF that attacked them. I don’t know the casualty numbers. I heard around six Lisu militia members were killed. There were gunshots until dawn. I heard around 30 to 40 shells land,” said the resident.
The KIA also occupied and torched a Lisu militia base to the south of the road on July 14. A junta jet fighter bombed the base following the attack, said residents.
A Kachin analyst said the KIA attacked the junta-affiliated Lisu militia base to expand its control of the road.
Tensions are running high between the KIA and regime which has brought in reinforcements from Light Infantry Battalion 58 and Division 88 to the road.
Founded in 2013, the LNDP contested in both the 2015 and 2020 general elections. It won two seats each in the Lower House and Shan State parliament in 2015. It is a political party that has transformed from a militia group and is estimated to have around 100 armed groups.
U Shwe Min’s troops form a splinter group from Zakhung Ting Ying’s New Democratic Army Kachin militia. Zakhung Ting Ying 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 regime control when it transformed itself into a Border Guard Force in 2009.