Myanmar Military Artillery Kills Kachin Civilians

By The Irrawaddy 12 April 2021

Three civilians have died in fierce fighting between Myanmar’s military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Momauk Township, Kachin State.

The victims were an 83-year-old woman, a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman from three different villages.

“They clashed intensely throughout the night from 11pm yesterday until this morning. Artillery shells fell into villages and the villagers died. Houses and monasteries were hit. Three people died. Two houses were blown up and windows were shattered elsewhere,” said a Myothit villager.

Artillery shells were fired by Myanmar’s military after KIA troops raided a police outpost and a military outpost on Sunday night, according to residents.

Two people were killed immediately by the artillery fire and the 21-year-old bled to death on Monday morning.

Villagers said the fighting was still taking place on Monday at noon.

Colonel Naw Bu, the KIA’s information officer, said: “The KIA occupied a police outpost at Tarpein Bridge. We also raided a military outpost which was building a communications tower. Junta troops provided artillery support for the outposts under attack. Artillery shells landed on villages. I heard civilians were hit but I don’t know the details.”

The KIA only confiscated ammunition from the two outposts and did not try to permanently occupy them, said Col. Naw Bu.

Clashes are also taking place near Alaw Hill in Momauk, where KIA’s Battalion 30 is stationed.

The battalion seized the hill near the Chinese border from Myanmar’s military on March 25. The military has been attempting to retake the hill for three days, said Col. Naw Bu.

“They have attacked with jet fighters four times this morning. They are still firing. It is far from villages and there are no civilians there. They are fighting fiercely. We are trying to maintain our control of the hill,” said Col. Naw Bu.

Villagers have asked both sides to avoid their homes. A villager said: “We have nowhere to run. There is open space outside the village. We can only hide in bomb shelters when they attack. If a bomb directly hits a shelter, we will die. This is our destiny. The fighters were overhead until this afternoon. We wish they would avoid civilian targets.”

Fresh clashes broke out in Kachin State on March 11 between Myanmar’s military and the KIA after two years without major violence.

The two sides were in the process of negotiating a ceasefire before the Feb. 1 coup. The Kachin armed group asked the military’s Northern Command not to harm peaceful Kachin protesters opposing the military regime.

Tensions grew after two civilians were shot dead in a crackdown by the security forces on anti-regime protesters in the Kachin capital, Myitkyina, on March 8.

Three days after the Myitkyina killings, the KIA raided a military outpost in the jade-mining hub, Hpakant, and since then carried out a series of attacks on police and military outposts in Waingmaw, Bhamo, Namtu, Hpakant, Mogaung and Shwegu townships.

The military has also attacked KIA camps with artillery and bombed KIA battalions 11 and 14 on March 29.

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