Myanmar Junta Uses Human Shields to Stop KIA Attacks

By The Irrawaddy 6 June 2021

An infantry battalion in Putao Township, Kachin State, has used 17 civilians, including the Suan Pi Yang village administrator, as porters on Friday to prevent the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) from attacking.

The 80km route from Putao to Suan Pi Yang has seen repeated recent clashes between KIA and junta forces.

Putao resident U Bum Sha Gawng said: “The military used civilians as human shields as they fear attacks on the journey. They also commandeered a private vehicle that civilians use to transport goods and rode with the villagers.”

About 30 soldiers seized 17 villagers on Friday morning, saying they needed to talk to them. They were released after the soldiers reached Infantry Battalion 138, without facing any questions.

Villagers said troops are no longer using military vehicles and opting for civilian cars instead, even for travel within Putao town.

Fighting with the KIA has intensified since the February coup with Myanmar’s military suffering heavy losses.

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