Kachin Villagers Flee Fighting Between Myanmar’s Military and KIA

By The Irrawaddy 16 March 2021

Yangon — Over 200 villagers in Injangyang Township in Kachin State were forced from their homes due to clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Myanmar’s military.

“I heard gunshots when I phoned the township yesterday,” said Ja Seng Hkawng, the deposed parliamentarian for Injangyang. Over 200 people from some 50 households in two villages in Injangyang have fled their homes, she said.

Gunshots were first heard on Monday evening in Injangyang, according to residents. The KIA Brigade 1 and the military’s Northern Command are active in the area.

The Malikha River, a tributary for the Ayeyarwady, separates Injangyang and Myitkyina, the Kachin capital.

“Around 109 villagers have fled to the church. They will return to the Pa La Na displacement camp [in Myitkyina]. But they are still stranded at a [military] checkpoint in Tang Hpare as the authorities have not yet given approval for them to pass through,” said Stephen Sut Awng, a priest at a Catholic church in Tang Hpare village in Myitkyina Township.

KIA information officer Colonel Naw Bu said: “We have not yet received information from the ground. We will not be able to confirm the reports until this evening.”

There have been fewer major clashes between the KIA and Myanmar’s military since the two sides started negotiating a ceasefire in December 2018. Tensions have eased in Kachin, despite sporadic clashes between the two sides in northern Shan State.

The KIA asked the Northern Command not to harm peaceful Kachin protesters against the military regime.

The Northern Command, in response, warned the KIA not to get involved in protests, saying it would attack the armed group if it intervenes. It also threatened to use live ammunition on protesters if they go too far.

Two male protesters were shot dead when security forces used live rounds on anti-regime protesters in Myitkyina on March 8.

The KIA raided a military outpost near the village of Sel Zin in Kachin State’s jade-mining hub, Hpakant Township, overnight on March 11, which boosted military tensions across Hpakant, Tanai and Injangyang.

Anti-regime protesters in Namti and Hopin in Mohnyin Township, Kachin State, have held posters in support of the KIA and called on deposed parliamentarians from the November election to establish a federal army.

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