Villagers Flee Heavy Fighting Between KIA and Myanmar Military

By The Irrawaddy 19 April 2021

More than 1,500 villagers from Momauk Township in Kachin State have fled their homes following fierce fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Myanmar’s military in the previous week.

The displaced are from Si Hut, Kone Law, Myo Haung, Myo Thit, Shwe Myaung, Namt Lan, Mone Khat, Naung Kon and Nant Ngoe villages in Momauk Township.

An administrator from one of the villages told The Irrawaddy: “Everyone is fleeing. Nobody dares to stay in the village when heavy artillery is being fired frequently.

“Military tensions have been rising. Villagers decided to flee as fighting could break out at any time, including the possibility of bombing by fighter jets,” he said.

Reverend Seng Awng from the Kachin Baptist Convention in Momauk Township told The Irrawaddy that the church had sheltered at least 150 households or around 600 people.

“They came to us because they are Baptists. Others took refuge at monasteries,” he said.

“As some people were killed by artillery, they fled the villages. They did not have time to take any belongings. We provided what they needed, including accommodation and meals,” Rev. Seng Awng added.

Buddhist monasteries and Catholic churches in Bhamo Township also provided shelter for about 900 Momauk villagers.

Military tension has risen in Momauk since the KIA attacked two police outposts and a military base at the Tarpein Bridge on April 11.

Four villagers were killed by the military’s artillery.

Fighting has also been reported near the strategic Alaw Bum base. In late March the KIA seized the key position near the Chinese border, prompting the military to launch several airstrikes to recapture the base.

The powerful rebel army still occupies the base and an estimated 100 junta soldiers, including a battalion commander, have been killed during heavy fighting.

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