MAI JA YANG, Kachin State — As ethnic armed groups gathered in Kachin State’s Mai Ja Yang to search for common ground toward federalism in Burma, clashes broke out twice on Thursday between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)—the armed wing of Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
Battalion No. 2 under KIA Brigade No. 6 and battalions under the Burma Army’s 10th Military Operations Commands (MOC-10) clashed twice at Hopong Mountain in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township, said Lt Col Naw Bu, a KIO information officer.
“[Our troops] said three military columns from the Burma Army surrounded them. At first, they attacked with small arms, but later there was artillery support,” Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy.
The casualties incurred on both sides were not immediately clear. The KIA also claimed that the Burma Army was conducting military activities near Battalion No. 14 under KIA Brigade No. 2 in Tanai Township.
The Burma Army could not be reached for confirmation of the clashes or military activity, nor did they release a statement.
The ethnic summit in KIA-controlled Mai Ja Yang began on Tuesday and ends Saturday.
When asked about the recent clashes, Lt Col Naw Bu said, “We are not sure if the military really supports peace. Drawing a conclusion from their actions, it seems they want to cause a disturbance.”
The KIA is a part of the nine-member ethnic alliance, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which opted out of signing a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the previous government in 2015.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.