After a month without fighting, new clashes between the regime and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have forced villagers to once again seek shelter from the violence in Putao Township.
“I think a column of the Burma Army (BA) entered the KIA area, which triggered the clashes,” said a man who wished to remain anonymous. He heard artillery fire on 3 April only two miles from his village where the KIA fought with the BA column of 80 soldiers in northern Kachin State. ”Some villagers advised us to flee to the nearby jungle. I don’t know what will happen,” the man from Tan Ja village told KNG.
After a long pause in the fighting, villagers who’d fled earlier violence thought it safe to return to their homes, which they did with the support of the Kachin Peace-talks Creation Group (PCG), the Kachin National Consultative Council and the Myitkyina Christian Council.
Villagers from Tumpyi Yang, Lon Shar Yang, N’se Yang,Tan Ja and Sumpyi Yang are concerned that they’ll be forced out of their homes by the clashes.
“We’re worried about our safety because the situation on the ground is still unstable,” said a resident of Sumpyi Yang, who asked that his name not be released. He said no one has fled the village, which was recently occupied by BA soldiers, but they’ve agreed to gather when they hear gunfire. ”We are telling everyone not to leave our village.”
The BA column used to stay in Hpert Mer but has since moved to Sumpyi Yang and Lon Shar Yang. According to the locals, the regime wants to drive the KIA troops out of nearby Tan Ja.
“I think there will probably be more clashes in the area,” said an anonymous source who’s also returned to his village in the township.
The KIA and the local branch of the People Defence Force clashed with junta soldiers in early February before withdrawing after more BA fighters were deployed in the area in early March.