KIA Warns Against Travel in Mogaung, Hpakant Townships

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 9 June 2017

RANGOON — Two battalions of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) issued separate warnings against traveling at night on roads in Mogaung and Hpakant townships in Kachin State this week.

Battalion 6 based in Hpakant Township and Battalion 11 based in Mogaung Township, both under KIA Brigade 2, distributed the notices dated June 7 advising against travel on the Myitkyina-Tanai-Ledo, Mogaung-Kamaing, Lawa-Kamaing, Kamaing-Hpakant, and Wehka-Hpakant roads.

“There is a flurry of military activity near battalions 11, 14 and 6,” Lt-Col Tang Sen of KIA Battalion 6 told The Irrawaddy. “So, we issued notices as a warning to avoid civilians being injured.”

The KIA issued notices to a local transportation service providers association running passenger buses and cargo trucks between Myitkyina, Mogaung and Hpakant townships as well as concerned village administrators and workers at amber, gold and jade mines in the area, said Lt-Col Tang Sen.

The KIA Battalion 6 notice warned against traveling between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. on those roads as of June 10.

The notice issued by KIA Battalion 11 was addressed to village administrators along the Myitkyina-Tanai-Ledo road, warning against traveling on the road between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“The KIA will not take responsibility for problems that arise because of traveling during this restricted period,” the notice read.

Brang Shawng, driver of a Myitkyina-Hpakant passenger bus, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday: “We got this notice two days ago. It is better not to travel as they said. Better safe than sorry.”

When asked by The Irrawaddy about KIA warnings, police officers of Hpakant and Mogaung townships said they had no comment though they were aware of the notices.

Cargo truck driver U Khaing Kyaw said: “I’ve been here driving for three years. During that time, there was shooting in Kamaing. As I’m not a local and I don’t know Kachin language, I’ve stopped driving now. I’ll only drive when things become stable again.”

The Burma Army said three locals in Tanai Township were injured by KIA artillery fire on June 5 and 6, according to a press release.

KIA spokesperson Lt-Col Naw Bu said clashes broke out from June 3 to 6 in Tanai and the KIA lost a frontline outpost in the clashes.  On Tuesday, there were also clashes between government and KIA troops on Lawa road in Hpakant, and military tensions remain high, he added.

In the first week of June, the Burma Army dropped warning notices by helicopter urging locals and migrant workers to relocate as it would crack down on illegal amber and gold mines in Tanai Township.

Clashes in Tanai Township have forced more than 1,000 locals and migrant workers to flee; many are still on the road with their movements blocked by authorities.