Burma army sends reinforcements to Kachin state's Hpakant

The KIA-constructed Uru Hka River bridge in Hpakant, the Kachin jade-rich town in northern Burma

A large number of Burma army troop reinforcements arrived in Kachin state's jade rich Hpakant township over the past week, the Kachinnews has learned, this following the heavy fighting that took place there last week between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Major Tang San, of the KIA's Battalion 6 told the Kachinnews that heavy clashes between KIA forces and army units took place in two separate places on January 22nd. The clashes ceased on January 23rd, the same the day army dispatched more troops to areas in Hpakant close to KIA battalions 6 forces.

“Today looks calm, there's nothing this evening because there are no more attacks from the Burma army, they are increasing their forces with two more battalions arriving yesterday so there are now 12 battalions here right now,” Major Tang San told the Kachinnews during an interview conducted on January 24th.

The heavy fighting began on January15th and lasted until January 22nd. During the clashes large numbers of government forces started attacking KIA battalion 6 units in Hpakant township.
The fighting erupted shortly after KIA forces detained three police who were accompanying the Kachin state transportation minister while he was traveling from Hpakant by road on January 14th.

Although the KIA freed the thee detainees, government forces continued to make it difficult for aid to be sent to a group of more than 1,000 villagers from Aung Ba Lay who were displaced by the fighting in Hpakant and taking shelter in Gisi village which has about 1,000 people as well. A group of prominent Kachin businessman from the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) and church leaders were denied permission to visit the estimated 2,000 civilians trapped in Gisi village.

Many Kachin believe that the army is refusing to let the trapped villagers leave because the army wants to use them as a kind of human shield to prevent a KIA counter-attack.