The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has withdrawn its Battalion 14 from its base in a mining area in Tanai Township amid a renewed offensive against it by the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw), according to local sources.
“We have withdrawn because the Tatmadaw keeps attacking the location. They attacked with a large force,” KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy today.
Battalion 14 withdrew from its permanent base last week, though some of its units continue to patrol the area.
“As a rebel force, it is difficult to maintain our battalions in permanent locations. In fact, it is not always our policy to defend bases at all costs; depending on the situation, we can withdraw a battalion to another area,” he said.
The Myanmar Army launched its second offensive on KIA-controlled areas this year starting in the first week of March. During the first attack, launched in January, it seized some mining areas in Tanai from the KIA.
According to the KIA, the withdrawal is not a defeat, but a strategic retreat that will allow it to prepare an attack.
The Myanmar Army continues to base itself in mining areas, according to local sources, but KIA troops also remain active in these areas, leading to occasional clashes.
The Tatmadaw has ordered the KIA to withdraw its battalions 12, 14, and 24 from Tanai and Mansi townships, but the KIA has refused.
It has not reached Battalion 14 yet, but KIA troops have already destroyed their base, according to the KIA.
The Tatmadaw launched a major offensive against KIA-controlled areas in Kachin, and TNLA areas in northern Shan. Clashes are frequent between the Myanmar Army and the ethnic armed forces. The KIA has not signed the NCA yet.