Myanmar Military Shells Kachin Civilians

By The Irrawaddy 10 August 2021

Light Infantry Battalion 58 of Myanmar’s military, which is based in Waingmaw Township, Kachin State, reportedly shelled civilians on Sunday night.

The battalion shelled for some 30 minutes, which was followed by rifle fire. Shells fell near a COVID-19 clinic, panicking patients, said a Waingmaw resident.

“Patients took cover in a panic. That center is in an urban area, near the township stadium,” said the resident.

Villagers from at least four villages in Waingmaw said the battalion fired artillery and bullets on their villages.

All four villages are adjacent to the infantry battalion. “They fired shots on Sunday night. No one dared to open their windows to look. We only heard two shells but there was sporadic gunfire throughout the night,” said a Laban villager.

A house damaged by junta artillery. / CJ

The ethnic armed group the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) said it was not conducting military operations in Waingmaw and Myanmar’s military was responsible for all the shooting between August 3 and 8.

The Sunday shooting was the fourth time in five days that the battalion opened fire on villages without an apparent reason.

On the night of August 3, the battalion opened fire on villages and conducted patrols with armored vehicles and two helicopters. Artillery shells landed on Laban and three houses were hit and 10 village pigs were killed.

It also fired 10 shells on the KIA’s headquarters in Laiza and shells landed near the KIA’s COVID-19 clinics.

The battalion also fired artillery on Laban on August 4, destroying a house.

“We were breathless with terror. We prayed for our lives. That night, there were vehicles and helicopters. The shooting paused when the helicopters came. They were flying near our roof. It was too close,” said a Laban villager.

On August 4, an unexploded artillery shell landed on the road between Laban and Tharyargon villages. Community leaders asked the military authorities to help remove the shell but no soldiers came and villagers removed it by themselves on Sunday.

A house damaged by junta artillery. / CJ

The battalion opened fire on other villages on August 5.

The shelling followed the KIA’s attack on the battalion on July 29 in Waingmaw. A civilian was killed and another injured in Tanbawng village when the battalion responded with artillery.

The battalion has since targeted several villages, believing that they were involved in the KIA attack. Many villagers say they have moved to Waingmaw town for their safety.

The KIA had been in frequent fighting with the military since its bilateral ceasefire broke down in 2011. Clashes stopped for two years before the military’s February coup.

The KIA opposed the regime and attacked junta troops and police stations in Kachin and northern Shan states since March 11, inflicting heavy fatalities on the military.

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