Fight for Myanmar jade mines leaves one dead, 100 homes torched

The region has seen frequent conflict since February as armies fight for control of the lucrative industry.
By RFA Burmese
Fight for Myanmar jade mines leaves one dead, 100 homes torched In this March 21, 2015 photo, the main military base is seen on a hill, left, above Hpakant town in Kachin state, Myanmar.

A three-day junta raid left one man dead and 100 homes destroyed in northern Myanmar, residents told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday.

Joint military forces stormed a village in Kachin state’s Hpakant township on Sunday. 

The rebel Kachin Independence Army and a local resistance group, the Kachin People’s Defense Force, have been attacking a nearby battalion since Feb. 26, making villages prime targets for junta attacks. 

The area, known for its jade trade, has been caught between battles of rebel and junta forces vying for control of the region’s gem mines

Troops stationed near Tar Ma Hkan village torched more than 100 homes and shops in the village, residents said. 

According to a villager, soldiers shot a man in his 40s as the raid continued into Tuesday.

“This junta column came to reinforce the infantry battalion, but the Kachin Independence Army and the Kachin People’s Defense Force intercepted them, so they could not retreat or move forward,” he said, declining to be named for fear of reprisals. 

“That’s why they burned the village. Shwe Nagar Pharmacy, Ma Nge Mobile Phone Shop and a grocery store were also burned and destroyed by junta troops.”

A buyer checks a jade stone near a mine dump at a Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar November 29, 2015. (Reuters)

More than 4,000 people live in Tar Ma Hkan village, residents said. Most villagers are employed in the jade industry, both in the mining and trade sectors. 

Locals said the junta camp near Tar Ma Hkan village was captured by the Kachin Independence army and affiliated defense groups on Tuesday evening. However, RFA could not independently confirm these claims.

RFA contacted Kachin state’s military spokesperson Moe Min Thein and Kachin Independence Army information officer Col. Naw Bu for more information on this battle, but neither responded by the time of publication.

Hpakant township was last attacked on Jan. 9, when junta troops used villagers as human shields following a battle with nearby People’s Defense Forces.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn.


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