The Burma Army (BA) has launched a clearance campaign to drive the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) out of an area where it plans to build a strategic road from its camp in Waingmaw Township to the Chinese border. For almost a week, the KIA has been fighting with BA soldiers on Falap Hill near Laiza, the headquarters of its political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation.
KIO spokesperson Col Naw Bu told KNG that much of the area between Pungling and the border was taken by the BA in 2018. Now the regime wants to build a road to transport rations and military equipment, but needs to remove KIA camps along the way. The junta has already deployed 300 soldiers from 3 Light Infantry Division-88 Battalions and Northern Military Command Headquarters, supported by a People’s Militia Force (PMF) from Waingmaw.
The KIO spokesperson said if the regime is determined to go ahead with the road, it’ll be done, pointing to the superior weapons and unlimited manpower of the BA. ”My biggest concern is that they’ll have to sacrifice the lives of many PMFs for the construction of this road. We don’t want to kill them.”
The BA shelled KIA Brigade 1, Battalions 251 and 253, with 105 mm and 120 mm artillery from Wa Byen, Kagam, Nabram and Pungling Shang Hkawng Bum (mountain). A shell landed on Chinese soil near the Magar Yang internally displaced person (IDP) camp on the border in Kachin State on 12 March. On the same day, the KIA claimed to have killed 10 BA. A few days later, the junta fired 100 shells at KIA camps in the region.
One IDP told KNG on condition of anonymity that while they were scared by the shelling, they were also afraid to leave their camp: “We don’t feel that we’re safe where we live anymore. We’ve already made preparations to leave the camp, although we’ve the feeling that we’re not safe anywhere. Still, it’s impossible to sit in the bunker all the time.”