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Twenty-three cadets from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) were killed and 13 injured when an officers’ training camp near Laiza was hit directly by an artillery shell on Wednesday.
La Nan, spokesperson for the KIA, said the training camp in Wei Kyaing Bum was hit by a 105mm shell fired from Burmese government forces’ positions on nearby Hkaya Bum Hill at around noon on 19 November.
Twenty were killed immediately in the attack. Those injured in the shelling were rushed to Laiza hospital where another three later died.
“This was an intentional assault – there was a clash at around 8:30 to 9am the night before in an area some six miles from the camp. The Burmese army had been firing artillery from their positions in Kandaung village,” said La Nan, speaking to DVB.
“At 12:36 pm, they shelled the training camp where the cadets were conducting drills. The shells came from Hkaya Bum and were precisely targeted at the camp.”
The Burmese base at Hkaya Bum was once held by the KIA. It was captured by government forces in 2012, allegedly with air support from fighter jets.
La Nan said another round of fighting broke out around 4am on Wednesday morning between the KIA’s 26th Battalion and the Burmese 6th Infantry Battalion in an area called Hupin. At around 8am, the KIA spokesman said, some KIA positions north of Laiza were assaulted by the Burmese 384th Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) concurrently with an attack by the 390th LIB on the KIA’s Kandaungyan base.
He said it was too early to comment whether the attacks will hamper the ongoing ceasefire talks, and that the KIA has reported the incident to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser to Burma Vijay Nambiar and other key players in the ceasefire process.