Myanmar Attacks Rebels With Fighter Jets in Kachin State

myanmar-peace-talks-march31-2015.jpg President Thein Sein (C) looks on as Aung Min (L) shakes hands with Naing Han Thar (R) after they sign a nationwide cease-fire draft agreement in Yangon, March 31, 2015.

The Myanmar government army deployed two fighter jets to attack an armed ethnic group in Kachin state on Friday, the same day as President Thein Sein was meeting with leaders from other armed groups involved in negotiating a national ceasefire, officials from several other ethnic groups said.

The current bout of fighting erupted May 6 when Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers used landmines against government troops, and the army attacked people involved in the local black market logging trade, said Colonel Zaw Taung of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political organization of Kachin state.

“There was a little bit of fighting on May 7, but it got worse on May 8 when the government army used the two fighter jets,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service, adding that the battle at Namlinpar village in Mansi township lasted from about 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., although it was not known if anyone was injured.

“They said fighting erupted because we attacked them with landmines, but in fact, they entered our areas where we started fighting them,” he said.

The KIO’s conflict negotiation team has relayed information on the latest attack to the military headquarters of the Myanmar army’s northern division and the Myanmar Peace Center, the Yangon-based organization that provides technical support to the country’s peacemaking process, he said.

This latest round of fighting by the KIA came as 12 armed ethnic groups concluded a six-day summit at the headquarters of the United Wa State Army in Pangsang, Shan state, to discuss a nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA). They called on the government to include all ethnic rebel armies in the final NCA and cease hostilities against three of the groups for the deal to proceed.

President’s meetings

Also on Friday, President Thein Sein met with Wa, Mongla and Shan armed ethnic leaders in Kyaington in eastern Shan state, said Aung Myint, spokesman of the United Wa State Army.

It was unclear, however, what they discussed and whether Thein Sein addressed the groups collectively or individually, he said.

“Representatives from our group led by deputy commander-in-chief Kyut Kyun Tan went there to meet with the president…at 2 p.m.,” Aung Myint told RFA. There was no statement from the government on the meeting.

The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army leaders had previously met with the president in February in Naypyidaw.

Earlier this week, Thein Sein signaled that his government was ready to finalize the NCA with the armed ethnic groups, but was waiting for the outcome of the Pangsang summit.

In the meantime, the Kayah state government in eastern Myanmar imposed a travel ban on 200 Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) soldiers in Shartaw township, Khu Nyay Yal, a KNPP communications official said.

KNPP troops arrived in the township on Tuesday to organize local residents into a movement, prompting state government representatives to inform two KNPP members that the soldiers were not allowed to do this, according to state-run media.

KNPP leaders will meet with representatives from the Kayah state government on Saturday to discuss the ban, Khu Nyay Yal said.

“We will talk about the Kayah state government’s ban on the 200 KNPP members and ask them to let us freely travel to, work in, and meet with our people in our area,” he said.

Reported by Tin Aung Khine and San Maw Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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