Burma Army, KIA Clash in Northern Shan State

Tuesday, June 8, 2020

Clashes have persisted between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Shan State in recent days after reigniting in early June.

A KIO officer serving in northern Shan State said that government forces attacked the Kachin armed group’s outposts in Kutkai Township on June 7, setting off the recent round of fighting.

“The clash location was far from civilian villages. No civilians were injured in the clashes,” a KIO officer told NMG on the condition of anonymity as he is not an official spokesperson. “The sound of gunfire has already stopped. They attacked us at around 6:00 a.m. Even though they shot at us, we didn’t shoot back at them,” he said, referring to the Burma Army.

According to the KIO officer, the posts attacked by the Burma Army belonged to the KIA’s Battalion 9 under Brigade 6.

He added that they also had two clashes with the Tatmadaw around Namphetka in Kutkai Township on June 6.

A Namphetka local said that people in the area are concerned about clashes continuing.

“[Burma Army] soldiers patrolled our village at around 9:00 p.m., so villagers did not dare go out of their houses. We were all afraid,” the local told NMG on Monday. “About 50 soldiers arrived in our village yesterday. Villagers closed their shops earlier than usual that evening. We are all afraid of forced to be porter,” the local added.

The Burma Army and the KIA’s Battalion 17 under Brigade 10 clashed near Bankar Kyi village in northern Shan State on June 4.

NMG called both the KIA and the Burma Army’s information offices no one answered.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw, who is in charge the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) information department, said that they also had clashes with the Burma Army near the recent clash site in Namphetka in early June. The fighting broke out when the Burma Army troops entered the TNLA’s control area, the spokesperson said.

Northern Shan State is included in the areas in which the Burma Army’s unilateral ceasefire declaration is supposed to apply, but it hasn’t prevented fighting from occurring.

“To avoid clashes, I think the both Burma Army and the EAOs [ethnic armed organizations] need to respect their promise,” the Namphetka local said. “If they stayed in their military bases, there would be no clashes. Now they aren’t following their promise. Clashes frequently occur in our area. Even though clashes aren’t occurring inside villages, as civilians, we are so scared. We don’t want any clashes in our area. We are afraid of both clashes and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The KIO/KIA is a member of Northern Alliance, along with the TNLA. Even though the KIO/KIA has made it known that it is open to signing a bilateral ceasefire with the government and military, no agreement has been reached yet.

Peace negotiation talks have stopped between the government, military and EAOs since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.