A People’s Militia Force (PMF), in dispute with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) over lucrative gold mining along the Tanai-Lido road in Kachin State, has set up new checkpoints to extort money from miners who want to enter the mines.
Since 1 June, the San Pya PMF (also known as Jahtu Zup) has blocked four roads to Jahtu Zup, San Pya and Awng Ra villages, all of which are connected to the KIA area. The armed group, which is under the Burma Army (BA ), opened some of the roads in mid-July, but the miners have to pay $5 for each motorbike and $2.50 a person.
“They closed the roads in this area because they want to take money from people. Every time we want to pass, we must pay money at the checkpoints,” a local told KNG on condition of anonymity. The PMF has set up a roadblock in San Pya village and Kai Taw area.
The PMF has planted landmines on the other two roads that remain closed.
Another anonymous said, “I was forced to pay $2.50 at the checkpoint when I went to the clinic and when I came back I’d to pay the same amount. I was sick yet I still needed to pay up. I feel they’re abusing us.”
On 18 July, the PMF attacked KIA Battalion 14’s (Brigade 2) Kanwe Thu camp, killing two soldiers and wounding one, according to an anonymous man from Jahtu Zup village who maintains affiliations with the group.
Approximately, fifty BA soldiers from Infantry Battalion 297 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.