Myanmar Junta Uses Artillery on Civilians in Kachin State

By The Irrawaddy 4 August 2021

Myanmar’s military has used artillery on civilians in Waingmaw and Laiza in Kachin State, according to villagers.

Residents said the attacks by Infantry Battalion 58 destroyed many houses and killed livestock in Laban village in Waingmaw Township on Tuesday night.

“At least three shells fell on my village at around 7pm. A house was burned and others were damaged. Twelve pigs died. It was very loud. We lay on the floor,” said a Waingmaw villager.

A damaged home in Waingmaw on August 3. / CJ

Two military trucks and three armored vehicles from Myitkyina patrolled Waingmaw town on Tuesday evening and two helicopters from the military’s Northern Command hovered above Waingmaw and Myitkyina townships, residents said.

The battalion was previously attacked at least three times by the KIA and residents said they thought there had been more fighting.

However, KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu said there were no operations by the armed group in Waingmaw on Tuesday evening. He said the artillery did not affect KIA forces.

“The KIA did not fire. It was their attack, either misfiring or in fear. We are investigating whether the military plots the clashes so it can attack the KIA.”

On Tuesday at around 11pm, junta troops also used artillery on civilian areas of Laiza, where the KIA is based.

Col Naw Bu said: “In Laiza they also targeted civilians. Around 10 shells fell on Laiza, including Mai Satt Pa, which has a COVID-19 quarantine center. These areas are far from our forces.”

Some residents said they fled their homes to avoid the barrage.

Pigs killed by junta artillery in Waingmaw on August 3. / CJ

There are also reports that two shells hit Chinese territory, as Laiza sits on the border. The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the reports.

The influential KIA has been in frequent fighting with the military since its bilateral ceasefire broke down in 2011. Since the February coup, the military extended its nationwide unilateral ceasefire but fighting with various ethnic armed groups persists across Myanmar.

The KIA opposed the February coup, saying it stood with the people, who rejected military rule. It has attacked junta troops and police stations in Kachin and northern Shan states since March 11, inflicting heavy fatalities on the military.

The regime last week extended a nationwide unilateral ceasefire until Sept. 30, except for areas of security and administrative concern. However, fighting has continued, including in Kachin State.

Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing during his address on August 1 marking six months since the coup invited all ethnic armed groups to peace talks.

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