Ethnic army seizes city on Myanmar-China border

The capture comes days after a meeting between the junta and Chinese envoy.
By RFA Burmese
2024.04.05
Ethnic army seizes city on Myanmar-China border Kachin Independence Army troops in Kachin state’s Lwegel city on April 4, 2024.
Citizen journalist

An ethnic army captured a town near the Chinese border, less than a week after officials met in Myanmar’s capital to discuss cooperation between the two countries, residents told Radio Free Asia on Friday. 

Myanmar’s military junta, which seized all major governmental seats in a 2021 coup d’etat, invited a Chinese envoy to Naypyidaw on Monday to discuss the Kachin Independence Army’s mass seizure of military camps and subsequent fighting on the border. Some border gates in Kachin state have still not been reopened, political analysts and residents told RFA. 

The rebel group has captured 60 junta camps since fighting began on March 7 and now controls portions of two major trade routes in Myanmar’s northern Kachin state, one of which runs along China’s border. 

The Kachin Independence Army, headquartered in border town Lai Zar, captured another major city nearly 160 kilometers (100 miles) south on Thursday. Rebel troops have occupied the city since March 29, but were not able to negotiate the junta’s surrender until Thursday, Lwegel residents said. 

All administration departments under the junta have been sealed off and their staff have left the city, a resident told RFA on Friday, adding that Kachin troops are now deployed throughout the city.

"The city has been seized. Kachin Independence Army troops have arrived in the city,” he said. “All administrative departments have been closed, and Kachin national flags were seen in some places. Soldiers and the police are still trapped.”

In addition to Kachin national flags hanging on the General Administration Department, market and hospitals in the city, they have also issued notices that only authorized personnel will be allowed at border gates and administrative departments, he added. Soldiers and other military personnel in Lwegel have been relegated to a junta base nearby. 

RFA contacted Kachin state’s junta spokesperson Moe Min Thein for comment on the military’s surrender, but he did not respond by the time of publication.

Kachin Independence Army information officer Col. Naw Bu told RFA that although the former administration staff had left, the anti-junta group’s administrative processes had not yet started in the city’s 21 government offices.

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

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