More than a dozen Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) troops, many of them badly injured, were briefly detained by the Kachin Independence Army when the latter raided a Tatmadaw base in Hpaka Township on April 6. The ethnic army released them after they themselves came under attack by two Tatmadaw helicopters, according to local sources.
The KIA attack was launched at 2 am according to the KIA. At some time after 5 am they seized the base, reportedly wounding some Tatmadaw troops.
“Our KIA troops raided their base. We were able to take control of the base, but we do not yet know the number of casualties,” said Colonel Naw Bu, a spokesperson for the KIA.
The KIA raid on the Tatmadaw’s Battalion 86 was launched under the command of the ethnic army’s Regional Operations Command 2 based in Tanai Township, according to Col. Naw Bu.
The KIA seized dozens of guns from the Tatmadaw, including artillery pieces, as well as ammunition during their raid on the base. The Tatmadaw’s Colonel Aung Aung was seriously wounded in the raid and reportedly died after the KIA left the area.
Video footage of the raid circulated on social media shows a large number of KIA troops milling about after apparently having overwhelmed the Tatmadaw base, many of whose troops appear gravely wounded.
A total of 13 soldiers including Col Aung Aung appear wounded and lying on the ground. Many of the wounded soldiers appear to have lost a lot of blood.
A medic is seen treating a wounded Tatmadaw soldier.
The KIA reported that a Myanmar Army helicopter later lunched a strike on its personnel as they were treating the Tatmadaw’s wounded, so they left the area. The KIA said it did not know the fate of the wounded soldiers it was forced to stop treating.
“We injected them [with medicine] and treated their wounds. We told them that their friends would come to pick them up soon. So we told them to stay there and we left,” said Col Awng Jar from the KIA’s Battalion 6.
Col Awng Jar led the raid on the Myanmar Army base.
The base housed 24 Tatmadaw troops. At least eight soldiers were killed in the attack, but the KIA has suppressed the casualty count, sources within the KIA said.
Even a local ethnic Kachin man reported that eight Tatmadaw soldiers were killed, and three others detained by the KIA.
The Ministry of Defense and the Tatmadaw released no statements regarding the attack.
The KIA last week announced they would launch guerrilla attacks and plant landmines against the Tatmadaw in the Hukawng Valley. They warned illegal mine workers in the area to leave by April 10.
According to Col. Naw Bu, no fighting was reported Monday in Tanai Township, which has been another conflict flashpoint. However, fighting there is expected to escalate soon as the Tatmadaw has recently deployed more troops to the area and continues to launch attacks against the KIA.
The Tatmadaw attacked KIA-held Mansi Township on April 1-6 according to local ethnic Kachin. No fighting was reported there in the past few days.
Several rounds of peace talks between the Tatmadaw and the KIA have been held in recent years. However, they have been halted since February, when the KIA issued a statement listing conditions for further peace talks with the Tatmadaw.
Similarly, the Tatmadaw asked the KIA to withdraw at least three battalions, including Battalion 14, which was in the Tanai area, and Battalion 12 and Battalion 27 in the Mansi Township area. However, the KIA refused to withdraw, leading to sporadic clashes in these areas. It eventually withdrew from the Battalion 14 base.
More than 100,000 people remain displaced from their homes after a 17-year ceasefire between the central government and the KIA collapsed in 2011.