The Kachin Independence Army created a new battalion near Pangwa last week, the former headquarters of the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K). The bulk of the troops in the KIA's newest unit, Battalion No. 32, were previously members of an NDA-K faction led by Lauwa Zawng Hkawng who in 2005 was part of failed coup attempt against NDA-K leader Zahkung Ting Ying.
In 2009 the NDA-K was officially dissolved and its 1,000 troops transferred to Border Guard Force units 1001, 1002 and 1003. Many of the NDA-K rank and file resented being transferred to the border guard force. When fighting broke out last month near Pangwa between government troops and the KIO there were widespread defections among the border guard troops who were ex NDA-K.
Last month the Kachin resistance overran government positions at Pangwa following heated clashes in the area. After several days the Burma army eventually regained control over Pangwa by airlifting trips to the town, located on the China Burma border. Burma army helicopters also attacked KIA position in a bid to drive the group from the region.
Since the KIA surrounded Pangwa on April 25, large sections of nearby Chipwi and Sawlaw townships have witnessed repeated clashes between government troops and the KIA. Pangwa sub-township and other parts of northeastern Kachin state have also seen an increase in fighting.
Many Kachin civilians from these areas have been forced to flee to the forested areas or cross into China to avoid the fighting.
It has been extremely difficult for aid to reach these displaced people due to the remote location and restrictions imposed by the Burma's central government.
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