Burmese government forces have clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Burma, as President Thein Sein meets with leaders of the five major ethnic armed groups (EAOs) in Naypyidaw today to negotiate and finalise a date for the signing of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
The KIA’s vice chief of staff, Maj-Gen Gun Maw, said the group’s 3rd Brigade has been engaged in active hostilities with government troops between the Kachin towns of Bhamo and Shwegu. This latest conflict has been ongoing for three days, and erupted when the Burmese army attached the KIA’s frontline sentry units.
“Fighting has been ongoing for three days in areas operated by the KIA’s 3rd Brigade, 12th Battalion, in the Bhamo-Shwegu area involving their frontline sentry units. We received news this [Wednesday] morning,” said Gun Maw.
Citing a similar incident when KIA units were targeted with air attacks while ethnic and government negotiators signed a May draft of the NCA, Gun Maw said attacks by government forces taking place during peace talks had become a pattern.
“We don’t know whether the government ordered the attacks or not, but on our side we always try to practice restraint when there are talks taking place. To date, we have never attacked the [Burmese army] first,” he said.