Kachin Forces Report Two Dead in Renewed Fighting With Myanmar Army

kachin-fighters-09232016.jpg Troops from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) guard a compound in Mai Ja Yang, a border town where Myanmar ethnic army leaders held a summit, July 28, 2016.

Fighting between Myanmar government forces and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the country's northern Kachin state has intensified over the past few days, driving some 2,000 people to flee rural rural villages for larger towns, a Kachin leader said on Friday.

"Clashes have escalated to the level of heavy weapons recently, with no more small arms fighting, especially in the mountainous area northeast of Waingmaw and northeast of Laiza," Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) spokesman Dau Khar told RFA's Myanmar Service. The KIO is the political arm of the KIA.

"The government side has not mentioned any casualties, except those in Kokang region. We have two killed on our side,” the spokesman added.  He did not elaborate on the government casualties.

"At about 4 p.m. yesterday, government forces launched an offensive using some heavy weapons, and a clash ensued between them and KIA near In-Kham-Bon Hill east of the Myitkyina-Bhamo road," KIA Information Officer Lt. Col. Naw Bu told RFA.

"No posts have fallen but several skirmishes have occurred during the past three days, and I think there will be more fighting since the Myanmar Army is intent on disarming all the ethnic armed groups," he said. "Right now the fighting is close to the security perimeter of KIA Laiza headquarters and there could be really serious battles if the fighting gets any closer.”

Fighting started in several areas of Kachin State since August, then paused for several days while Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi convened the first round of her signature 21st Century Panglong Conference in the capital Naypyidaw, drawing representatives from most of the ethnic armies that have battled the government for decades.

Since fighting resumed in June 2011, ending a 17-year cease-fire between the former military government and the KIA, Myanmar's army has attacked the KIA's Laiza headquarters and nearby units with aircraft and artillery, the online news website The Irrawaddy reported.

The KIA has not yet signed the nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) that many other groups agreed to in October, but KIO leaders joined the Panglong Conference in late August in what they called a show of goodwill.

The Irrawaddy also reporting that fighting since Sept. 2 in southeastern Myanmar's Karen state between the Myanmar army and a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) armed group had displaced about 4,000 civilians, including many women and children.

Reported by Wai Mar Tun and Myo Zaw Ko for RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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