Military Council Escalates War Crimes Amid KIA Offensive in Kachin State

The Military Council has retaliated with airstrikes and torching homes after the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) initiated a far-reaching offensive, capturing many regime positions in Kachin State in 2024. These air attacks, many of which have directly targeted civilians and their homes, have been steadily rising since March 7 after KIA quickly captured all of the military camps around its de facto Laiza headquarters and Daw Hpum Yang, Myo Thit, and Kunglaw. By the end of April, KIA and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) seized more than 70 military camps and outposts from the Burma army in Kachin State.

Torching Homes

Over 555 buildings—homes, schools, religious buildings—have been damaged or destroyed by the regime’s forces between January until now. Fighting is happening in 16 of 18 townships in the state with most of the clashes in Hpakant Township. This year, only Nogmug and Hkawng Langphu are peaceful.

Regime troops from Infantry 42, 12, and 76 sent to aid troops and the People’s Militia Force fighting with KIA and allied forces set fire to 394 of the approximately 700 houses in Tamakhan in Hpakant Township. The regime also flew airstrikes. When firefighters arrived in trucks to extinguish the fires, Burma army soldiers threatened to kill them.

In Ma-U Bin, the Burma army and PMF accused villagers of Ma-U Bin of collaborating with KIA and burned 20 homes in early February. There wasn’t any fighting in the village in Hpakant Township at the time of the attack.

When a Wu Yang PMF soldier’s house was burned in early March, the soldiers torched three houses in Wu Yang, Lamyang, and Mukchid in Waingmaw Township, again justifying the attack based on accusations the villagers were affiliated with the Kachin armed group.

The PMF burnt ten homes in Htawt Gaw, a Lisu village in Waingmaw Township, after it clashed with KIA forces in early March.

Airstrikes & Shelling

Other ways the Military Council targets civilians are with indiscriminate deployment of jet fighters and artillery shelling to bomb their villages and farms.

Shells fired by an IB-58 base in Waingmaw town landed in the compound of Christian Bible College in Moke Jik, causing civilians to fear for their lives.

The regime flew airstrikes and fired artillery shells at Nam Yar in Hpakant Township from April 9 to 11 where heavy fighting was reported. The attacks burned a church and 24 homes in the village located on the road to Hpakant town. Nam Yar had a regime checkpoint. Many people have been detained there with reports of some being tortured during interrogation.

After intensified clashes occurred in Gwihka (Huay Hkar) of Hpakant Township, the military junta intentionally attacked civilian people in the village. The Burma army launched both airstrikes and artillery shelling, damaging more than 30 civilian houses.

As KIA and its allies attacked the police station held by the regime and its camp in Sezin in the townships between April 10-23, the regime damaged or destroyed 23 homes and soldiers lit some on fire.

From February 16-19, the regime launched over 50 airstrikes on Jehkam (Si Kham Gyi) when the KIA attacked an important base in the village in Mansi Township. The Burma army’s base located on the Bhamo – Mabine road has existed for 30 years. According to local reports, more than 40 homes were destroyed by aircraft bombardments.

In early March, KIA seized Sumprabum, the first township in Kachin State to fall. After attacking the town sharing the same name for two months while being repeatedly attacked by jet fighters, airships, and Y-12 aircraft, the Kachin soldiers captured all of IB-46’s positions. KIA has released no details about casualties or structural damages in Sumprabum.

At least one civilian was killed during fighting in Sinbo while two people were injured. The extent of damages to the town is also unknown at this time.

Only three homes have been destroyed in Laiza, but one of them was the chair of KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation.

Many rice mills, farms, domestic animals, and other properties have been affected by the regime’s bombardments in the state.

Junta Air Attacks ‘War Crimes’

Ma Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a human rights activist with Sisters2Sisters, pointed out an increase in brazen attacks on civilian members of the population using jet fighters and other aircraft while supported or condoned by countries like Russia, Singapore, China, Russia, Thailand, and India.

“According to the facts, the Burma army has already launched over 1,000 airstrikes within a year. This is possible while certain countries continue to supply fuel and weapons,” and the rest of the world fails to take action to end this, she remarked.

According to the Geneva Conventions, soldiers are obliged to protect civilian populations in conflict-affected areas, yet the Military Council is intentionally attacking civilians and committing war crimes with impunity.

War-stricken Civilians Urgently Need Humanitarian Aid

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, from the periods of March 7 to early April, there have been 18,000 displaced by fighting in Kachin State.

At the end of April, these numbers have increased with villagers from Momauk, Bhamo, and Mansi townships fleeing violence. These displaced populations don’t have enough food, healthcare, or tarpaulins to build shelters. Parents are concerned about their children’s education with the upcoming semester starting soon.

For those planning to return to areas under the KIA’s control, there are other concerns as there are many concealed landmines that still need to be cleared. For those whose homes were destroyed, they need materials to build new dwellings before the wet season begins.

For example, Tamakhan villagers have to remain in displaced camps as many of their homes were destroyed during the conflict and at the same time, there are jade miners extracting the precious metal in the area.

Back to top button