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KIA downplays its objectives in recent hostilities

Protesters in Myitkyina on Monday called on the government to ensure the safety and well-being of thousands of civilians pinned down by recent fighting in Kachin State.

The Kachin Independence Army’s objective in recent attacks launched by the ethnic armed group against government troops was limited to attempting to “disrupt” the military, not to “overrun” the bases it has targeted, according to a KIA spokesperson.

The spokesman Naw Bu was responding to a statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief released over the weekend, in which multiple instances of KIA aggression against Tatmadaw positions were described over recent weeks.

“At 11:30 p.m. on 31 December, KIA rebels shelled a Tatmadaw battalion based in Mogaung from 2,300 metres’ distance north of the battalion. No one was injured nor were buildings damaged,” the 3 February statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief read.

“An unexploded shell was found in a field, which is 2,000 metres away from the battalion. Similarly, at 3 a.m. this morning, about 15 KIA rebels shelled the battalion in Mogaung from a distance of 5,000 metres; a shell exploded 1,000 metres away from the battalion”

Naw Bu told DVB: “While the clashes in the KIA’s Battalion 14 area were intense, KIA forces launched offensives [in Mogaung] to disrupt the Tatmadaw forces. The KIA does not aim to ambush or overrun Tatmadaw bases.”

The Tatmadaw leader’s office said the KIA launched a similar assault in the pre-dawn hours of 3 January, this time on a military outpost in Nan Kyin village, outside the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. Some KIA soldiers were killed and a number of Tatmadaw soldiers were injured, said the statement.

Hostilities between the two sides were also reported last month in the Kachin State townships of Sumprabum, Tanai and Hpakant.

On 1 February, representatives from the KIA and the Burmese armed forces sat for talks aimed at de-escalating the fighting in northern Burma. At the time, Naw Bo said he hoped the discussion “could pave the way for a shift from armed conflict to political dialogue.”

A protest was staged in Myitkyina on Monday, at which participants called on the government to ensure the safety and well-being of thousands of civilians pinned down by the recent fighting in Kachin State.