Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kachin residents fear imminent war

Tuesday, 04 September 2012 13:04 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese government has increased its military presence in Hpakant Township in Kachin State, and residents are worried that serious fighting will soon break out again.

Since August 1, the Burmese government has deployed soldiers in civilian clothes via the Myitkyina-Hpakant route, and 50 to 200 soldiers have been stationed in every Burmese base in the area, a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) military source said.

Tens of thousands of Kachin refugees have fled the fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and government forces. Photo: HRW

In addition, at least 200 soldiers armed with heavy weapons were deployed by helicopters on August 2. In response, KIA soldiers have been stationed along the Hpakant-Lauhkaung Road in upper Mogaung Township and are on alert, said a KIA source.

On August 29, dozens of Burmese soldiers were killed when a fuel warehouse of the Wai Aung Gabar Company exploded when hit by a mortar shell during fighting, the KIA said. The figure could not be confirmed.

Meanwhile, many residents from Hpakant have fled to Myitkyina and Mogaung because they are worried that fighting will intensify.

Last week, 886 war refugees took refuge at a church of the Kachin Baptist association.

“Residents cannot go to the jade mines to work,” said Tu Ja, a church worker. “It will be difficult to move from our church when there is heavy rain. Now, flooding has not hit. Despite the rain, the water level subsided.”

National League for Democracy [NLD] official Khin Maung Chin told Mizzima, “We heard the military presence has been increased. People from the town’s jade mines are worried, and they moved to camps in the town.”

Around 12,000 war refugees have taken refuge in 34 refugee camps in Hpakant, according to the NLD.

Khin Maung Chin said the NLD and social organizations had jointly donated more than 38 million kyat and basic food including rice, cooking oil and salt.

Meanwhile, some purified drinking water companies including Lucky Star have donated water to the refugees. A township doctor has organized healthcare service groups that visit the camps every day to provide basic services.

Buses run from Hpakant to Myitkyina as usual, but only a few buses run from Myitkyina to Hpakant because there are many security checks, said Khin Maung Chin.

Last week, the Kachin State government donated five million kyat for war refugees, and the Kachin Baptist Association received more than 300,000 kyat.

The Buddha Gawpaka Group, the NLD and the Mandalay Kyaw Wine group have also donated to the refugees.

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