Schools Closed and Civilians Displaced as Fighting Between Burma Army and KIA Intensifies

By Lawi Weng 15 August 2016

Fighting has been ongoing for nearly a week between members of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army, leading to school closures and civilians fleeing their villages along the highway connecting Kachin State’s Tanai and Hpakant townships.

Clashes have increased in the Shahtu Zup village area in Tanai Township between members of the KIA Battalion 14 and government troops.

Tang Sen, a KIA lieutenant colonel, spoke to The Irrawaddy from the front line on Monday.

“We just returned from the fighting area on foot; there was just one hour of fighting today,” he said.

Tang Sen is also the commander of the KIA’s Battalion 6, based nearby in Tanai Township. Fighting has often broken out in that area as well, he added, from August 4-7.

“Our troops have had a lot of movement. We went up and down the highway, and fighting broke out as our troops met their troops,” he said.

He added that there have been two clashes between members of KIA’s Battalion 14 and the Burma Army; one occurred between the two villages of Nan Yar Nar and Tamadawsu, and another happened near the site of a local bridge, named Datha Nyi Noung.

“The first clash took one-and-a-half hours of fighting,” Tang Sen said.

The Kachin News Group reported on August 13 that all schools in the KIA-controlled area near Shahtu Zup had been closed. Miners in the area and around 1,000 villagers sought refuge in a safe area as fighting in the area intensified.

The military-owned Myawady Daily reported on Sunday that one villager in Shahtu Zup was wounded by a landmine on August 10, and accused the KIA of planting the mine so that it would maim the villager. According to another report from the Myawady Daily, Burma Army troops found the bodies of two members of the KIA after fighting broke out near the town of Kamaing in Hpakant Township on August 8.

The Irrawaddy previously reported that on August 8, KIA soldiers from Battalion 6 ambushed a convoy of Burma Army trucks using the road highway the highway connecting Mogaung and Hpakant townships, destroying two vehicles—one near the village of Nam Sheng, and one near Gauri, where some police were also wounded.