Burma Army troops raided the headquarters of the Kachin Defense Army (KDA) east of Kutkai town in northern Shan State, and reportedly detained top leaders from the group this week.
The armed group, which is also known as the Kawng Kha People’s Militia Force (PMF), is named for the village in which its headquarters are located. It was formerly the fourth brigade of the Kachin Independence Army, but split in 1991 and signed a ceasefire with government forces before becoming a PMF in 2010.
Those carrying out the raid in Kawng Kha on March 25 used combat tanks, and were from the Burma Army’s LID 99, which have been described as “shock troops” after the reports of their brutal operations in Rakhine and Shan states.
“I think they want to destroy the KDA,” an area local told KNG on the condition of anonymity. “They seized all weapons. They also detained leaders. They ordered people not to wear the KDA uniform in the Loi Kham area.”
Military columns from the Burma Army also entered the Ja Yang area, where KDA’s Brigade 2 is based, on March 26. According to local sources, they clashed there with the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army’s (MNDAA) Battalion 204—under Brigade 211—from 1:00 p.m. until the evening.
KNG was unable to confirm whether KDA troops had joined the Kokang troops in the battle.
In early March, the KDA’s Brigade 2 had warned the Burma Army not to enter their area, where the clash with the MNDAA later happened.
The Burma Army held a press conference in Kawng Kha village on March 6 after allegedly seizing more than 90 billion kyat (US$64 million) worth of narcotics and drug paraphernalia and production materials around the village. They invited military attachés from foreign countries, international anti-drug organization representatives, and media outlets to the event.
The drugs, raw materials, and drug production tools reportedly came from the KDA headquarters.
Representatives from the US’s Drug Enforcement Administration, Thai narcotics control board, China’s national narcotics control commission, and the Australian federal police attended the conference.
Officially the Kawngkha PMF has 3,000 troops, but locals speculate that the actual number could be as high as 10,000.