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Burmese army threatens force to complete census in KIO area

File Photo: Ethnic Kachin people sit in the doorways of shelters at a temporary camp for people displaced by fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army. (PHOTO: Reuters)

About 1000 troops from the Burmese army’s Magwe-based 88th Light Infantry Division and Theinni-based 16th Military Operation Command on Wednesday arrived near Man Win Gyi village on the Kachin-Shan border and surrounded the village which hosts thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

A local aid worker said the Burmese army troops were preparing to launch a major offensive against Kachin Independence Army (KIA) troops to take a census of people living in the KIO-controlled area surrounding Man Win Gyi village. “Burmese army officers have threatened KIA local officers that if they don’t allow to take census, they will use force to take census in KIA-controlled area,” said the aid worker.

A mix of Kachin, Shan, Chinese and other races live in Man Win Gyi area located a few miles from the China-Burma border. A local KIA officer said they have allowed Shan leaders living in KIO-controlled territories to take census by themselves and deliver census information to Burmese authorities in order to avoid direct confrontation with the Burmese army.

Kachin IDPs living in temporary camps — Man Win Pa, Lagat Yang and Lana Zup Ja — near Man Win Gyi area fled from Kawng Ja, Mungding Pa, Mahkaw Yang, Nam Hpu and Namlim Pa in Mansi Township as battles raged between the KIA and Burmese army troops last November. Most IDPs have already been displaced twice since the renewed war began in June 2011.

Naw Din of the Karuna Myanmar Social Service said, “Tension between the two parties is at highest level now. I am afraid of hearing a third displacement.”