Monday, February 7, 2011

KIO, junta fighting breaks out; first since 1997

Monday, 07 February 2011 16:48 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In the first armed clash in 13 years, the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) inflicted heavy casualties on junta troops on Monday, reportedly wounding a battalion commander and seven soldiers, according to KIO sources.

kio-1KIO Battalion 27 engaged junta Infantry Battalion No. 15 near Manshi Township northwest of Bamo in northern Shan State, KIO sources said. The clash lasted about 20 minutes.

‘The fighting started this morning about 10 a.m.’, said a KIO source.

The KIO said that junta troops, led by battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Yin Htwe, intruded into a KIO-controlled area, which started the fighting. Yin Htwe’s condition was unknown.

A KIO officer said that it had repeatedly issued warnings for the regime not to intrude into its control area.

According to the KIO, the two sides last fought in April 1997 near Nammatee in Kachin State.

The latest fighting was confirmed by a Shan State Army (North) (SSA-N) officer. Military tension in the region has escalated recently.

A local resident said that 100 troops of the KIO People’s Militia in Bamo were ordered on Sunday to prepare for combat.

The KIO, which says it is fighting for equality and self-determination, signed a cease-fire agreement with the military government in 1994. The agreement was broken last year when the KIO refused to accede to the regime’s order to transform its troops into a Border Guard Force under the command of regime officers.

Battalion No. 15 reportedly was deployed during the opening ceremony of the Tapain Hydropower Plant No. 1 in Momauk Township on January 23, said a military source on the border.

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