Burma’s military has been accused of attacking and then looting internally displaced persons camps in southern Kachin state earlier this week. According to representatives of the UK based Kachin National Organization, the largest Kachin diaspora group, on Tuesday morning army units engaged in an offensive against Kachin Independence Army positions in Mansi Township, firing shells at an IDP camp located in Mung Ding Pa village.
“Local witnesses stated that 60mm heavy artillery shells landed near the school in the IDP camp. Burmese soldiers looted IDPs’ belongings and arrested eight villagers from Kong Ja Village and two from Mung Ding Pa village, including a child aged about 12,” read a KNO press release issued yesterday.
The KNO statement denounced what it called the “inhumane actions” of the military. The KNO and other refugee advocates fear that recent fighting between the KIA and Burma Army troops in the Saga Nam Hkum area which began earlier this week endangers the more than 2,400 IDPs living in camps at nearby Nam Lim Pa.
Units from the Army’s Infantry Battalions 45, 56, 236, 240, 276, and Light Infantry Battalions 601 and 602 under the command of the 21st Military Operations Command (MOC-21) are currently engaged in a large military offensive against KIA positions in Mansi township said the KNO statement. Speaking to the Kachin News Group KIA representatives backed up the KNO’s claims. Fighting in Mansi has also carried over to Mabein township in neighboring Shan state said Zau Shan, a senior KIA officer based with the group’s third brigade headquarters.
On Wednesday fighting continued for more than 6 hours at Saga Nam Hkum in Mabein. The fighting involved KIA battalion 12 forces and a combined column of government forces, according to Major Labang Jawn Awng, commander of KIA Battalion 12.
“The fighting is happening because government forces have intruded more than 10 miles into our territory at a time when our troops are in withdrawal. The Government does not like peace. They are trying to occupy KIA territory in breach of our agreement,” said Major Labang Jawn Awng referring to a 7 point agreement reached between the KIA’s political wing and the government less than two weeks.
At least 20 government soldiers, many of whom appeared to be children were among the casualties on the government side who killed following heavy fighting on Thursday commander Jawn Awng told the Kachin News Group. The KIA side also suffered some injures but no deaths were reported.
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