CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Fighting resumed between the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and the Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State’s Tanai Township in early November, with frequent clashes continuing throughout the month, according to a KIA spokesman.
“Clashes resumed early in the month and continued up until Tuesday, Nov. 28,” Colonel Naw Bu of the KIA told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday. “It may represent a follow-up to the Tatmadaw’s military clearance operation [in Tanai],” he said, referring to June clashes that forced local villagers to flee their homes.
The Tatmadaw attacked the KIA’s Battalion 14 area [a 10-mile radius within Tanai Township] with heavy artillery, but there had been no reports of casualties as of yesterday, Naw Bu said.
The fighting, while not daily, was frequent and usually involved barrages of more than 30 artillery rounds. “It usually starts in the morning after 6 a.m. and continues until the afternoon,” he said.
As fighting erupted again in the amber-rich areas, the return of already internally displaced villagers is still uncertain, said local relief workers.
Naw Tawng, a Catholic priest from Kawng Ra village of Tanai told The Irrawaddy on Thursday, “Some displaced villagers of N’Ga Ga and Nam Byu villages are still sheltering in churches and others are with their relatives in Tanai.”
The KIA spokesman said they were unable to help those who fled to towns such as Tanai or Myitkyina.
Naw Bu said there had been no ceasefire talks between the KIA and the government or the Tatmadaw. “We will just follow the FPNCC’s principles regarding peace talks,” he said, referring to the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, an alliance of seven northern armed groups including the KIA.
Earlier, the KIA and Tatmadaw were involved in intense clashes in June and July following the second session of the Panglong Peace conference in May.
In May, the FPNCC demanded an alternative approach to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
The FPNCC is led by the United Wa State Army. Four of its members – the KIA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA) – are currently engaged in active fighting against the Tatmadaw in Kachin, northern Shan State and most recently in Rakhine and Chin State’s Paletwa Township.