A 7-year boy sheltering at a temporary refugee inside China suffered serious injuries after being hit by bullets reportedly fired by Burmese soldiers stationed across the border inside Kachin state on October 15, according to eyewitnesses who spoke to the Kachin News Group (KNG).
The boy was hit in his thigh and hand while he ate a meal with his family at a refugee camp located at Border post # 6 near Pangwa (also spelled Pangwah), according to a fellow refugee who saw the boy shortly after the shooting. The boy was later sent to a Chinese hospital where he is receiving treatment.
The gunfire is believed to have come from soldiers with the army's Light Infantry Battalion No. 77 under Brigade 88. It is unclear if the soldiers deliberately shot into the camp or did so by accident. At the time the shooting occurred clashes between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) were taking place on the Kachin side of the border. According to KIA sources the fighting started when a convoy of Burmese troops headed towards a local Burmese post to send supplies. The Burmese post is located on top of a hill and is thought to have little water.
According to a KIA soldier on the day of the child got shot the fighting started at about 2pm. “They [Burma army] lost one of their soldiers and there were no casualties from ours. The shooting was not long. They were shooting randomly until about 4 pm,” the soldier told KNG.
Shortly after the young boy was shot, Chinese authorities paid a short visit to the camp to evaluate the situation. In August and September Chinese authorities closed most of the camps located at Nongdao (also spelled Naung Tau) and La Ying in southern Yunnan Province. The camp at border post no. 6 is further north near the Chinese town of Tengchong. The refugees at this camp come from Chipwe township and fled following fighting between the government forces and the troops loyal to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
There are currently 770 refugees living at Border Post No. 6 camp. Transportation to the area is difficult and the weather during winter months is very cold.
A major point for trade between Burma and China, Pangwa was the long-time capital of the now defunct New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), 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.