The regime’s Northern Military Command has cracked down on gold miners in Tanai, sending soldiers and members of the Warazup People’s Militia Force (PMF) to confiscate their equipment and burn down their bamboo huts in the mining area in Kachin State.
Soldiers from the Infantry Battalion (IB) 238 and the PMF plan to seize at least 10 backhoes in the Lapu Hka and Payin Tawng gold mines, according to locals.
“They told the miners that they would confiscate at least 20 backhoes because they were extracting gold without a licence. Finally, they negotiated with the army to take only 10 of the backhoes,” said a Tanai man who wished to remain anonymous. He said the soldiers started burning the shacks—of which they plan to torch 20—and they took 6 of the backhoes.
One hundred IB 238 and PMF soldiers have been staying in Ja Ngai, San Lun, Wemaw and Mong Khun near the mining area since 14 January.
Soldiers were also sent to the Paying Tawng amber mine, two miles from the Lapu Hka gold mine, to extort money from the miners. They also forced some of the miners to leave the area.
“They have only allowed two people per bamboo hut to stay and expelled the rest, as well as from the Lapu Hka gold mine,” the source told KNG. Before the raid, there were 1,000 miners at the gold and amber mines, but at this stage it’s unclear how many are still working there.
A man from Teinkawk, who also requested anonymity, said the army has blocked both roads leading from the village to the gold mine since it entered the area in mid-January. “The residents have to use these roads to get to their farms, I don’t know why they have to block them.”
Last December, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which is fighting the military regime, had warned miners to stop their activities in Chaung Sone, Ka Roi Thu, Ja Wang, Kai Taw and Bankok, which are supported by the dictatorship. Two days later, the military responded by blocking the roads to the mines.
The KIA and the regime, which are competing for the lucrative industry in the Hukawng Valley, have been trying to force the mines under each of their control to cease operations.
On 9 January, the junta flew air strikes on the Kachin Brigade 2 headquarters in Tanai, killing at least three soldiers.