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A peace-negotiation team in Kachin State have travelled to Hpakant to secure the return of three policemen who were taken captive by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) last week.
Lamai Gum Ja, a mediator between the government and the KIA, said that the central command of the armed group issued an order to release the three officials who were detained on 14 January. They were escorting the regional transportation minister as he inspected a highway. The minister, Kamann Du Naw, was also detained but later released.
The three-strong team set out from Myitkyina to Hpakant on 18 January to collect the detainees, but damage to transportation routes and bridges in the area, sustained in the recent fighting, has slowed their journey.
“Once the KIA command had issued an order for their release, we were asked for assistance to pick up the three policemen,” Lamai Gum Ja speaking to DVB on Sunday.
“Bridges along the way have collapsed so it is likely that we will have to walk – we don’t even know if we will arrive in Hpakant this evening.”
The detained policemen are due to be handed over to the mediators on Monday evening.
Fierce fighting, which has seen many local villagers forced to flee their homes, broke out in the area after the incident.