The regime has been launching attacks on the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Namsan Yang for over 10 days, with the objective of gaining control over three critical locations within the region of Kachin State. These locations play a crucial role in safeguarding the de facto headquarters of its political arm, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in Laiza.
According to Col Naw Bu, the spokesperson for the KIO’s information department, the regime has intensified its military operations. Additional troops have been deployed since June with the aim of capturing the strategic locations of Dumbang Bum, Hoti Wa Bum, and Hpung Krawng Bum. These hilltop camps are situated along the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway, a crucial route that leads to Laiza town.
Naw Bu revealed that three regime columns have entered the area. Simultaneously, soldiers sent from Awng Ja camp are advancing towards the Namsan Yang Bridge, while the dictatorship continues shelling from the top of Hkaya Bum and Bum Ray Bum.
These were deployed to establish military camps for future attacks in the region, he explained. The first column traveled from the Myitkyina-Waingmaw-Gara Yang road, the second from Taw Law Gyi to western Namsan Yang, and the third from Bhamo-Dawt Hpung Yang.
Local estimates suggest that approximately 1,000 soldiers arrived by 10 July.
Seventeen families, who were displaced by the conflict in 2011, made the difficult decision to return to Namsan Yang village in 2019. Their return was made possible through negotiations between the Burma army and KIA under the previous government. During these talks, mediated by U Hpaula Gam Hpang a year prior to their return, an agreement was reached that neither party would establish a permanent presence near the village.
Regrettably, the recent surge in fighting in June has once again disrupted the lives of these villagers, compelling them to flee to Myitkyina and Waingmaw once again. The renewed clashes have not only affected Namsan Yang but have also impacted the surrounding villages in the area. This unfortunate turn of events has shattered the hopes of those who had dared to rebuild their lives and has brought further uncertainty and turmoil to the region.
According to an anonymous Kachin political analyst, the junta has various reasons compelling its invasion of the Namsan Yang area. “One is to force the KIO/KIA to return to the negotiation table after the May meeting facilitated by China failed to yield an agreement. Additionally, the Burma army seeks to sever the communication between the KIA and PDF (People’s Defense Force) in Sagaing Region, as the PDF troops are becoming increasingly formidable with the support of the KIA.”
The analyst asserts that the Burma army is unlikely to employ its air force and will rely on its ground forces to attack the KIA camps.
“The Namsan Yang area is so important for the KIA. It’s a strategic location. If the Burma army gains control over it, their military strength in Sagaing Region will be diminished. They are well aware of this fact. Most likely, they will continue their military offensive against the KIA and attempt to capture its military camps in the area, even at the cost of enduring significant casualties.”
On 12 July, the KIA successfully ambushed the regime’s Myitkyina column between Guardmai Yang and Ja Pu, resulting in Burma army casualties. Witnesses reported seeing injured soldiers being evacuated back to the capital using civilian buses.
A resident from Dawt Hpung Yang shared that the Bhamo column is traveling in military trucks, passing through Myo Thit and Kon Law before continuing towards Hkaya Bum. He said, “We observed Burma army columns moving through the area after 1 July. Two columns have already passed in recent days, while another is stationed in Nuam Lan. As far as I know, these Burma army columns are en route to the Namsan Yang area. I believe each one consists of over 100 soldiers, and I have heard that some soldiers have already arrived in Hkaya Bum.”
In their passage through Dawt Hpung Yang, the columns also encountered ambushes near Hkalar, Loi Mauk Yang, Ner Lon, Madee Yang, and Awng Ja along the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway.
A local source close to the KIA, requesting anonymity for security reasons, stated that despite the armed group’s determined resistance against the Burma army columns, many soldiers have successfully amassed in the Madee Yang area. “KIA troops are preparing to cut the road around Dawt Hpung Yang area,” the source explained.
The regime is firing 105 mm howitzers and 120 mm mortars from Hkaya Bum and Hpun Pyen Bum camps, which the military seized from the KIA in 2013.
The KIO has issued travel warnings to civilians on July 4th, urging caution due to the accumulation of enemy soldiers near its Laiza headquarters.