KIA Suspected in Shooting Death of Hpakant Jade Trader

By Nyein Nyein 7 October 2015

RANGOON — Colleagues of a 35-year-old man shot dead in a Hpakant village have accused soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) of responsibility for the killing.

The deceased, Tun Lwin, was a member of the Shan Ni, or Red Shan, ethnic group and a member of the Tai-Leng Nationalities Development Party (TNDP) who operated as a mineral trader in the jade-rich village of Namt Maw.

“[He] was shot four times in his head and chest by two gunmen on a motorbike at his home at 4:15pm on Monday,” said Khin Maung Lwin, the head of the TNDP’s

Tun Lwin’s brother has filed a murder case at the Hpakant police station. Local residents told The Irrawaddy that his brother believed the killing had resulted from a taxation dispute over jade products.

Hpakant police officer Thant Zaw Oo told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the suspects were believed to be two KIA soldiers in their thirties. Several local KIA sources contacted by The Irrawaddy said they were unfamiliar with the incident.

Jurisdiction of Hpakant Township’s lucrative jade mines is contested between the Burmese government and Kachin rebel troops, and mining operations in the area have periodically halted since the breakdown of a ceasefire between the government and KIA in 2011.

Locals and police officers have told The Irrawaddy that the area is facing heightened tension in the wake of recent military operations in Kachin State.

Khin Maung Lwin, who is also an Upper House candidate for the TNDP in Hpakant, said that Tun Lwin’s body had been sent to the Shan Ni Literature and Culture Association office in Seik Mu village, two miles away from his home in Namt Maw, after an autopsy in Hpakant hospital.

Tun Lwin is survived by his wife and daughter.