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KIA warns miners in Tanai of impending guerrilla campaign

A Kachin Independence Army soldier on duty in Tanai Township, Kachin State, on 15 June 2017. (Photo: Ye Mon / DVB)

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has advised unlicensed gold and amber miners to vacate the sites of their operations as the ethnic armed group plans to launch guerrilla attacks against Burma’s armed forces in parts of Tanai Township’s Hukawng Valley from 10 April.

The KIA released a statement last week publicly warning the miners at several sites in the Hukawng Valley, part of which is a designated nature preserve in northernmost Kachin State, warning of the potential for impending hostilities.

Lamai Gum Ja of the Kachin-based Peace Creation Group confirmed the authenticity of the statement.

“The illegal miners from many other towns across the country migrated to the areas controlled by the KIA’s 14th Battalion to scavenge for gold and amber. In June last year, the Tatmadaw air-dropped leaflets warning the miners to evacuate the sites. Many miners and their families fled to Tanai town,” he said, referring to conflict between the KIA and government troops in mid-2017.

Following the leaflet air-drop by the Tatmadaw in June, hundreds of workers abandoned the gold and amber mines and fled to Tanai town.

“Intense fighting between the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] and the KIA raged for a couple of months afterwards,” Lamai Gum Ja added. “The KIA’s 14th Battalion had to withdraw its troops. For that the KIA plans to launch a counter-offensive. The KIA released the statement to avoid casualties involving civilians.”

The KIA’s statement issued on Thursday further reads, “If you maintain your presence at the mining sites, failing to heed the warning, you will be responsible for your own fate.”