The Myanmar military has seized a key command base and two others belonging to the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA) as skirmishes continue between the two armies in Kachin state near the border with China with no apparent let up in sight.
The office of Myanmar commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said Wednesday that government forces captured the 12th battalion of the KIA’s third brigade 12 in the town of Mansi in Bhamo district of Kachin state.
No government troops were killed or injured, but some KIA troops were killed, the announcement said.
Government troops from brigade 88 and military operation command headquarters (MOC) conducted a ground attack on the KIA command base from which the ethnic armed group directed illegal logging activities, Min Aung Hlaing’s office said.
The government army seized 20 buildings, 108 tons of logs, four logging trucks, two jeeps, one motorcycle, five weapons, and some receipts related to logging at the base in Mansi, the announcement said.
The Myanmar forces also captured two other Kachin outposts following a series of assaults since Jan. 13 that have included aerial and artillery bombardments, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported.
The fighting forced more than 200 local residents to flee to safety in nearby villages.
“We withdrew our troops for three days,” said Major John Aung, commanding officer of KIA battalion 12. “They [the government army] had four to five battalions and attacked us for four or five days by aircraft.”
Some military affairs observers in the border area said more skirmishes may be likely because the government army is increasing its troop numbers, according to Myanmar media reports.
Government soldiers have seized various KIA outposts and battalions in Kachin state in other clashes since then, resulting in an increase in the number of internal refugees and civilian deaths.
The KIA teamed up with three other ethnic armed groups—the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army—to launch coordinated attacks on Nov. 20 on 10 government and military targets in and around Muse township in war-torn northern Shan state, about a three-hour car drive from Mansi.
The increased hostilities in both Kachin and Shan states have endangered an ongoing national peace process that the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has made a main goal of her civilian-led government that came to power last April.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.