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Thousands Trapped by Fighting in Indawgyi Lake Town

Troops under the State Administration Council (SAC) have sealed off the town of Nam Mun, trapping thousands of residents attempting to escape the fighting between SAC forces and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Mohnyin District, Kachin State.

“Some people were able to get out of town the other day,” a man said, explaining that when residents tried to leave in the following days, they found that SAC troops blocked them, trapping everyone in Nam Mun. He estimates that only a few hundred people managed to escape.

Fighting has been ongoing between KIA, SAC, and the Nam Mun People’s Militia Force, which has been fighting alongside SAC in Nam Mun since January 23. Regime troops on top of a hill near the town have been shelling the area. Locals are concerned about Kachin soldiers attacking Nam Mun while civilians are still there.

“I think the situation in this area will get worse…Probably, KIA troops will launch (fresh) attacks on the Nam Mun PMF and the Burma army at any time,” the man said, explaining how SAC shelled the area from the hill the entire night. He’s concerned about stray shells landing in the town.

Nam Mun has four wards, and most civilians are staying at Buddhist monasteries and the church. Others who managed to leave are hiding in the jungle outside the town, unsure where to run to next.

Last week, KIA troops began attacking the PMF in Ward 2 of the town with a drone after another PMF sent troops there from another area of Indawgyi Lake to recruit Shanni youths. The Kachin soldiers later opened fire with their rifles, causing many casualties to the enemy, according to local reports.

The PMF fighters have reportedly abducted at least 20 civilian hostages from people’s homes, another local source told KNG. Some have been freed, but others were sent to SAC’s hilltop camp. He heard that the regime plans to use them in a prisoner exchange with prisoners held by KIA.

Nearly 300 residents from Nam Mun, in need of emergency support, are sheltering in Hopin in Mohnyin District.

Prior to the fighting, the Nam Mun PMF told locals they wanted to create a ‘Shanni state,’ which is one of the reasons KIA forces attacked them, locals said.

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