YANGON — The Myanmar Army launched three air attacks on Battalion 6 under the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)’s Brigade 2 on Monday morning, said Major Awng Ja, the Battalion 6 commander.
“[The military] dropped bombs around the hill where Battalion 6 is stationed. Clashes are quite fierce,” the major told The Irrawaddy.
The attacks caused neither civilian casualties nor damaged villages, he added.
Monday was the third day of attacks carried out by the Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, against Battalion 6. The government troops are also currently launching attacks on KIA outposts elsewhere in Kachin State, said U Hsan Awng of the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG).
“[The military] has been attacking several [KIA] battalions,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The Irrawaddy was not able to obtain comments from the Defense Ministry regarding the attacks.
The commander of the Northern Command Major-General Teza Kyaw in a meeting with local and foreign media on Friday said the Tatmadaw has to carry out attacks for regional stability in Kachin State as well as in response to ambushes by the KIA on Tatmadaw troops.
“In fact, we are only carrying out counterattacks against the KIA,” said Maj-Gen Teza Kyaw.
Clashes are likely to continue in Hpakant and Tanai, as the Tatmadaw has brought in reinforcements, said KIA Major Awng Ja.
“Their troops are growing, and we therefore try to avoid clashes as much as possible. But clashes could break out anytime if their troops advance,” said the major.
“We would like to mediate, but the Tatmadaw doesn’t seem to want to. So, we will wait and see. Only when both sides are willing can we mediate. We’ve asked both sides to negotiate repeatedly, but have received no reply. So, we wait,” said U Hsan Awng of the PCG.
The Tatmadaw launched attacks on gold and amber mines that it said were being illegally operated by the KIA in Kachin State’s Tanai in June 2017.
Clashes stopped for a while after KIA Battalion 14 retreated from its headquarters in Hukawng Valley in Tanai on March 14. But on April 6, KIA Battalion 6 attacked the Tatmadaw soldiers providing security in Hpakant, which was followed by military attacks in a number of places including Tanai and Hpakant, forcing thousands of people from their homes.
With the assistance of China, a Tatmadaw delegation led by Lt-Gen Tun Tun Naung and a KIA delegation led by its chairman General N’Ban La met in Yunnan Province on Feb. 1. No agreement was reached at the meeting.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.