The military is building an important camp on Chin Kon Hill in Indaw Township that could give its soldiers an advantage in the war against resistance groups in the Sagaing Region and nearby northern Kachin State.
“It has enough flat terrain and is surrounded by dense forest, making it a strategic position,” said a local who asked that his name not be mentioned.
The new camp is two miles from Indaw town and one mile from Nam Kin village. On 11 March, 500 soldiers arrived in 46 military trucks from the Mandalay Region and have been digging bunkers and laying sandbags.
After the coup, the army expanded its presence in the township and set up two checkpoints, one at the entrance to the town and the second on the road from Indaw to Bamauk.
“From Indaw, where they have their base, they launch offensives on the surrounding townships. Now they’re trying to establish a base on the strategic Chin Kon hill. As far as I know, they want to build a prison and a interrogation centre there,” another man requesting anonymity told KNG.
Following the imposition of martial law in Indaw Township and many other areas of Burma, the military arrested 30 local people in February, accusing them of supporting the revolution.
Locals told KNG that many regime soldiers were sent to the township to support the offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) in Bamauk, Katha and Mohnyin townships.
The groups often ambushed the regime’s columns travelling from the Sagaing Region to Kachin State, where the resistance has taken a stronger position in the last two years since the putsche.
An officer of the Indaw PDF is concerned that the hilltop camp could give the regime an upper hand in the conflict. “We can see this hill from our location, which means they can use it to attack us with heavy weapons…They can also use it to patrol the area.”
Civilians depend on the hill for growing and foraging vegetables and gathering bamboo and firewood. “This is a problem for us,” a villager told KNG, wishing to remain anonymous because she feared repercussions for talking to the media.
In Hpakant Township, Kachin State, soldiers have killed civilians after shelling their villages from the hills of Kar Maing and Hpakant.
A man from Indaw town, who also requested anonymity, said, “We are worried that they will shell villages if they complete the camp on Chin Kon hill. We do not want them to build it!”
Junta soldiers in the township have been harassing women and they fear this abuse will only increase with the imposition of the new camp.
Currently, Light Infantry Battalion 312 has a base in the township, but the PDF officer suspects that Light Infantry Division 88 will be stationed on the hill.