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Burmese military sits for talks with Kachin rebels

FILE PHOTO: Gen. N'Ban La of the Kachin Independence Army (PHOTO: DVB)

Following a series of fierce assaults on military positions and mines under the control of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), representatives of Burma’s armed forces sat for talks yesterday with Kachin leaders for what could be a prelude to political dialogue.

According to KIA spokesman Col. Naw Bo, the Kachin delegation hosted the meeting, led by N’Ban La, the chairman of the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation, or KIO.

“Despite the fact that intense hostilities are continuing between the two sides, I believe that this informal meeting could pave the way for a shift from armed conflict to political dialogue,” Naw Bo told DVB.

The KIA spokesman declined to identify the whereabouts of the meeting. However, sources reported that the two military delegations had met quietly in Yunnan Province with the support of Chinese government authorities.

Lt-Gen Tun Tun Naung reportedly headed the Burmese military contingent.

Burmese government forces announced on 28 January that it has seized a KIA military outpost and customs gate close to amber and gold mines in the areas of Tanai and Sumprabom in northern Kachin State.

More than 3,000 miners and their families had been prevented from leaving the mines by the Burmese army; in recent days, however, dozens of families have begun arriving by foot in Tanai town.

At least four civilians were killed during the fighting between Burmese armed forces and the KIA on 19-27 January.

The KIA has refused to sign a government-backed nationwide ceasefire agreement, first tabled in 2015. In recent years, the Kachin group has formed what is now known as the Northern Alliance with other ethnic armies in northern Shan State to oppose government forces in that region.