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Locals in the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)-controlled town of Laiza are fearful of renewed clashes between government and ethnic forces, after an artillery shell launched by the Burmese army landed close to a boarding school on Thursday afternoon.
“A shell launched from the Burmese army’s position on Khayargon hill landed within 200 metres of our boarding school and it rained shrapnel on the building’s roof,” Zau Raw, secretary for the Kachin Refugee Committee, told DVB on Friday.
He added that no casualties were reported in the incident.
The Alanbum Boarding School, situated on a Laiza hilltop, is home to around 900 displaced students and some 100 teachers. The school has been in operation for three months and has received assistance from United Nations organisations.
Zau Raw alleged that the military had deliberately targeted the building, and criticised the Burmese military for the strike.
“The area attacked was a residential neighbourhood populated by civilians, students and teachers. The shelling yesterday has sparked fears amongst them, especially the students who are now less attentive to their study,” said Zau Raw.
In November last year, the Burmese army’s 389th Light Infantry Battalion shelled a KIA officer training camp to the east of Laiza, killing 23 cadets and injuring 13 others.
From 1994 to 2010, the Kachin militia enjoyed a long stretch of ceasefire with the government, before hostilities resumed over the government’s proposed Border Guard Force plan, which proposed ethnic armed groups reform as border guard units under Burmese army command.