KIA Closes Gold Mines In Hpakant Township

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has ordered its soldiers of Brigade 2 to shut down gold mining blocks along Lido Road in Hpakant Township on Friday to stop the local People’s Militia Force (PMF) from profiting off the mines.

According to an officer of KIA Brigade 2, the Sanpya PMF, based in the village of the same name, collects a lot of taxes from the gold mines. The PDF, which reports to Burma Army (BA) Infantry Battalion 297 in Shaduzup village, has also been beating up people passing by the mining blocks.

“We’ve already received orders from headquarters to close the gold mines and asked all businessmen to leave them by 15 October. The reason for the closure is that the PMF has increased its presence in the area and has recruited more soldiers” while roughing people up and collecting exorbitant taxes from miners, the KIA officer said.

Last month, they attacked about 20 people at a checkpoint in Sanpya.

“They interrogated everyone who passed the checkpoint and beat up young Kachin for no reason. But they didn’t beat up the Bamar (Burmese) youths,” he said. Last week, a pastor from the Kachin Baptist Convention was left bleeding.

According to local sources, the KIA blocked the way between the checkpoint and the gold mine by digging up part of the road with a backhoe on Thursday. Many predict that fighting will soon break out between the groups and BA near Shaduzup.

“We have to pay taxes to both sides,” said a businessman. He pays the PMF 1 million kyat ($525) per month for each backhoe while others pay only 500,000 kyat. ”Now they’re charging 40,000 kyat ($21) per barrel of fuel, while they used to take a gallon from each barrel,” he said explaining that taxation is out of control.

The KIA has closed blocks in Wakhar, Ja Wan, Lod Ja, Kai Taw and Yuzana villages in Hpakant Township.

After it attacked a BA supply convoy with landmine near Bankawk village on the Lido Road with a landmine last week, the military and PMF have tightened security around Sanpya, Awng Ra and Bankawk villages.

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