Early Monday morning troops loyal to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) captured a militarily strategic post previously held by government forces near Pangwa, according to an announcement from the KIO that was published on a pro-KIO website.
Independent sources in the area have also confirmed to the Kachin News Group that members of the KIO's armed-wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) did indeed take control of the post following two days of heavy fighting.
Government forces who fled the post left behind 5 guns and approximately 1,000 bullets, according to the KIO. The post is located in eastern Kachin between the government controlled town of Pangwa and KIO-controlled boundary gate No. 6.
A major point for trade between Burma and China, Pangwa was the long-time capital of the now defunct New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK), a ceasefire group led by Zahkung Ting Ying (also spelled Za Khun Ting Ring). In 2009 the NDA-K officially ceased to exist when its standing army of about 1,000 troops was absorbed by the national border guard force.
The NDA-K was the successor to a KIO unit led by Ting Ying's that broke-away in 1968 to join forces with the Burma Communist Party (BCP). In 1989 following the complete collapse of the BCP, Ting Ying with the support of troops under his command created the NDA-K, quickly reaching a ceasefire with the central government. The NDA-K's deal with Burma's military regime enabled the group to profit from the cross border timber trade at Kambaiti and Pangwa during a period that saw vast clear cutting of forests in Kachin state.
Beginning in April of this year the KIO launched a campaign to capture what was once the NDA-K's territory. The army has countered these efforts by sending large numbers of ex NDA-K turned border guard force troops to face off against their fellow Kachin in the KIO. While some of the ex NDA-K troops have defected from the army many others have died during the fighting.
During a pro government rally held in May in Pangwa, Ting Ying, who currently serves as an independent MP in Burma's parliament claimed that the Burmese military would wipe out the KIO. At various times over the last 20 years Tin Ying has publicly feuded with the KIO, this year however the former guerrilla leader turned businessman likely has millions of new reasons not to like the KIO, as fighting in the Pangwa area has reportedly seriously affected his business interests.
According to KIO sources the group's advances in there Pangwa have forced a lucrative mine co-owned by Ting Ying to close temporarily. Located near boundary gate no. 7 the Htang Shanghkawng molybdenum mine was until the outbreak of fighting operated by Ting Ying's Chinese business partners. Molybdenum is in great demand in China due to use as a steel alloy.