Burma

KIA Seizes Kachin Outpost from Pro-Myanmar Junta Militia 

By The Irrawaddy 20 December 2022

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has seized and torched a hilltop outpost of a junta-affiliated ethnic Lisu militia in Tanai Township, Kachin State, according to a source.

KIA troops attacked the outpost in Lamone village on Dec. 16. They also ambushed a group of some 30 Lisu militia fighters led by U Shwe Min on their way to Light Infantry Battalion 297 in Shadu Zup village the following day, added the source.

Militia at the Lamone outpost had subjected locals to tight checks, even harassing farmers as they went to their fields, said one resident.

“People can now go to their farms freely as the Lamone outpost has been seized,” they said.

KIA-related Facebook accounts said that four Lisu militia members were killed and five wounded in the ambush on Dec. 17, adding that weapons had also been seized.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the reports.

U Shwe Min’s troops are 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. U Shwe Min then founded the Lisu National Development Party (LNDP) in 2013.

The party contested both the 2015 and 2020 general elections. It won two seats each in the Lower House and Shan State parliament in 2015. The LNDP’s armed wing is estimated to have around 100 fighters.

Following the military takeover in February last year, U Shwe Min’s militias established a security checkpoint at a village in Waingmaw Township, just a few kilometers from the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina. The militia group has since joined with junta forces to attack KIA outposts, said residents.

The group established a base at Lamone village in Tanai, the heartland of the Lisu people in Kachin, in November last year.

The Irrawaddy could not reach U Shwe Min or the LNDP for comment.

Separately, junta troops arrested five young Kachin men working at a jade mine in the jade-mining hub of Hpakant on December 17, according to a representative of the Kachin Development Networking Group. Only one of the men has been released so far, according to the representative.

“They were arrested for no reason. We heard that the other four are being held at a [junta] hilltop outpost. Family members are concerned for their safety,” he said.

Amid months of escalating military tensions in Hpakant, jade mines that had been operating only at night are now inactive as workers fear arrest.

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