KIA meets Burma Army face-to-face
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KIA meets Burma Army face-to-face

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) warned the Burmese Army to bring to a halt any movement in the KIA controlled areas in Northern Shan State, said Kachin News Group (KNG) referring local military sources close to the KIA. The warning came out after a latest offensive against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) was kicked off by Burmese army.

The notice was released by the central military command of the KIA (Dai Lawn Rung), based in Laiza, in Kachin State. According to KIA officials in N. Shan State, if Burmese troops enter the KIA areas, they will face armed clashes.

Local military observers in Munggu (Mongkoe) told the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, “At the moment, Burmese troops have stopped any movement in the KIA areas. Fighting will break out if they neglect the KIA’s warning.”

The gateway of KIA’s 4th brigade based in Loikang, near Kutkai in Nothern Shan State. The KIA’s 4th brigade, which has five battalions, is based in N. Shan State. Battalions No. 17 and No. 29 are nearest to the current military conflict between Burmese troops and the SSA-N.

The KIA is closely watching the most up-to-date fighting between the SSA-N and Burmese troops, as said by the KIA officials. Both the KIA and SSA-N are members of the newly shaped United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the political and military alliance structured by 12 ethnic groups. Military analysts near the China border said the current fighting between the Burmese Army and SSA-N will test the UNFC, which formed last month.

The KIA is the second strongest armed ethnic group in military-ruled Burma. It has five brigades. Four of them are based in Kachin State. There are about 30 battalions, with over 30,000 fighters- including regular and reserved forces, said KIA.

Tensions between the Burma armed forces and ceasefire groups, the UWSA, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), SSA ‘North’ and the NDAA have mounted after the junta’s latest deadline for the groups to remove weapons expired on 1 September last year. All sides have been reinforcing their troops after none of them accepted the junta’s deal.

On 13 October last year, a mine blast occurred in Kachin State leaving two dead and one wounded. Five villagers from two Villages in Mogaung Township stepped on a mine planted by KIA insurgents. Two were killed and one was injured in the blast, the New Light of Myanmar said.

It was the first time that the junta used the term “insurgent” to reveal the ethnic Kachin Independence Army since the group signed an armistice treaty with the junta in 1994 that ended a decades-long struggle against the military regime for autonomy.

Using the term “insurgent” is not a good sign. KIA has had a 16-year ceasefire with the military regime and seeks self-reliance for the Kachin people. The International Crisis Group (ICG) said that the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has had “basic discussions” with Beijing over the contours of a “genuine union” within Burma in which the ethnic groups would have autonomy, possibly similar to the Special Administrative Regions in China — Hong Kong and Macao.

But the Burmese junta’s deadline to disband had prompted fears of conflict with those ethnic armed groups, including the KIA, who declined to do so.

According to a report by the Thailand-based Kachin News Group (KNG), the junta also began dispatching fresh troops and munitions in Kachin as early as last November.

As said by KNG, eye witnesses had confirmed that a number of vehicles carrying military supplies arrived in Bhamo Township in Kachin State on November 30 from Mandalay. They said that the military trucks continued to Laiza, close to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) headquarters which is on the Sino-Burmese border. The KIO is the second largest ethnic armed group in Burma with some 10,000 fighters. It is also one of the ethnic rebels that denied the junta’s BGF policy.

Several analysts think conflicts possibly will grow since more ethnic armed groups refuse to accept the junta’s BGF plan as well as new constitution. The ethnic groups also believe the incoming sham civilian government will leave them even without basic rights that they presently have.