Burma Army and Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) recalled former soldiers and recruited civilians for a Peoples Militia Force (PMF) amid escalating conflict with Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Putao District, Kachin State.
According to a resident from Putao town, USDP instructed former soldiers living in Machanbaw, Nogmung and Khawnglanhpu they needed to return to service.
After KIA started providing military training for youths, Tatmadaw—as Burma Army are locally called—wants to bolster its strength in the district, the man said because “these youths will return to Putao together with KIA to attack the military.”
Another source who is friends with a former soldier explained they are not required to fight but provide security at battalion headquarters. “I heard the Army threatened to seize their military certificates if the former soldiers didn’t comply with orders to return,” he said. They recalled retired soldiers for IB-46 while some of their adult offspring are also receiving military training.
Locals suspected the Army called back about 200 former soldiers, but KNG wasn’t able to independently confirm this.
In early May, Hton Hpu Dagon, from Rawang Culture Association, and USDP requested the PMF in Nogmung to provide local youths with military training and weapons. USDP told every house in the town and in the surrounding villages to send one person from every household for training, a man from Nogmung told KNG, explaining they will fight against KIA.
Meanwhile, some of the youth that KIA is training are protesters from Putao town who fled when the military council initiated its crackdown.
KIA Brigade-1 shelled the Putao airport on June 1. Kachin soldiers ambushed two military vehicles on the Putao to Lonshar Yang Road on May 29. The day before KIA shelled Tatmadaw IB-46.