Two members of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are dead and two wounded after a People’s Militia Force (PMF) attacked their camp near a gold mine located in an area controlled by KIA Battalion 14 (Brigade 2) on the Tanai – Lido road.
On Monday morning, 18 July, the San Pya PMF led by Min Zin Thant under the Burma Army (BA) Infantry Battalion (IB) 297 attacked Kanwe Thu’s camp, according to an anonymous man from Jahtu Zup village who maintains affiliations with the group.
“They arrived with two vehicles to attack the KIA camp…I also heard that there were only seven KIA soldiers stationed in Kanwe Thu,” he explained.
“I think the PMF wants to control gold mining in the area even though it’s in KIA territory.”
Approximately, fifty BA soldiers took part in the offensive, the first time the PMF launched an attack on the KIA near Jahtu Zup. The group is based in San Pya, Hpakant Township, and IB 297 is in Jahtu Zup.
Since June, the group has blocked four roads to Jahtu Zup, San Pya and Awng Ra villages, all of which are connected to KIA territory.
In May, KIA soldiers set fire to two excavators belonging to Min Zin Than. A few days later, the PMF leader called about 30 local gold traders to his camp and warned them that his men would shoot anyone who sold food or other goods to Kanwe Thu camp.
Another local, who requested anonymity, told KNG that Min Zin Thant was angry about the attack in Jahtu Zup and had told participants at the meeting that he’d block the road to the camp starting on 1 June.
”He threatened to shoot at any vehicle using that road” and also to block all other major roads leading to the camp.
According to yet another villager also asking that his name not be mentioned, the KIA stopped gold mining in the area since October last year, but the PMF was still using the excavators to mine the precious metal in Jahtu Zup. The KIA decided to take action against the PMF last autumn after residents complained of extortion and assault by their soldiers at the checkpoints to the mining blocks.