Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fighting continues in Kachin State, says KIA

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 18:04 Phanida

Fighting broke out between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burmese government forces in Hpakant Township on Tuesday morning, said Daw Bawk Ja, a member of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the National Democratic Force (NDF).

Rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 3rd Brigade soldiers stand guard as they secure an area on Hka Ya mountain in Kachin province on January 20, 2013. Kachin ethnic minority rebels in war-torn northern Burma accused the military of launching a fresh attack on January 20, just days after a ceasefire pledge by the country's reformist government. AFP PHOTO

The skirmish between Kachin troops and the government army lasted for one hour and civilians were forced to evacuate their homes in the village of Gin Si in Hpakant Township, she said. This follows President Thein Sein's January 19 directive for a ceasefire.

Lt-Col. Zaw Dwe of the KIA's 6th Battalion told Mizzima that, “From 8am to 9am there was a fight near Gin Si village. The government’s battalion 242 with about 70 troops came to attack our side, but there were no casualties.”

Daw Bawk Ja said that residents in her village had expected things to calm down after the president's directive for a ceasefire but that, “We have heard the sound of weapons nearby everyday.”

“This morning around 4 am, I awoke to the sound of the dog barking. There were around 30 or 40 government forces passing through our main road. I don't know where they went, but at around 10 am we started to hear gun shots and we saw villagers running,” she said.

The ongoing fighting has left many displaced. Daw Bwak Ja told Mizzima that she has allowed 100 refugees to stay at her home and that currently there are 300 refugees in Aung Jar village and a further 40,000 refugees in Hpakant Township.

“Due to these battles since the first week of January, 8,000 listed refugees from 16 villages are under the shelter of monasteries and churches in Hpakant town, Gin Si, Lun Khin and Seng Tawng," said Lt-Col Zaw Dwe.

According to residents, the government told the Htoe Lawt Aung villagers that the army would come to the village and asked the KIA to evacuate.

Daw Bwak Ja said that President Thein Sein must not only call for a complete ceasefire at La Ja Yang, but that he should also direct the government army forces in Kachin State to retreat.

"The President directed a ceasefire, but he didn’t keep his promise. Shame on him,” she told Mizzima.
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