Heavy artillery attacks by the Burma Army were launched on Laiza, headquarters for the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), and surrounding areas.
The attacks near the China border were an escalation of offensives that have been on-going since the beginning of the month—also around the same time the KIO hosted a summit attended by many of the country’s armed groups.
During a press conference in late July, Lt-Gen Mya Tun Oo, spokesman and chief of military security affairs, said the army didn’t approve of the ethnic summit that happened a few days later in KIO-controlled eastern Kachin State. Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing was reportedly concerned it would undermine peace efforts for the upcoming Union Peace Conference (also called 21st Century Panglong Conference).
KIO information officer Lt-Col Naw Bu said yesterday 81mm mortar deployed by Burma Army mountain positions were launched for one hour as part of the series of attacks against the KIO’s military wing, Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
Soldiers from Dum Baung Bum military camp fired mortar at the KIA Brigade 3-in Yin Fan Fat.
KIA Brigade 5 area was attacked by Dee Dot Phong Yang camp.
The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front Northern Branch (ABSDF-NB) camp near Laiza was attacked by Burma Army soldiers in Phong Pyan Bum camp.
Maj La Sai, chairperson for ABSDF-NB, said: “We just stood and watch them trying to provoke us because we have signed the NCA (nationwide ceasefire agreement). We can only watch what they will do next,” he said.
“If it truly wants peace and wants to end the civil war in Burma, the Burmese military—which is leading our country—needs to stop the offensives and all attacks like today’s heavy artillery attacks,” he said.
In 2013, the army launched artillery strikes on Laiza, killing 23 ABSDF-NB recruits enrolled in a KIA cadet training school.
Other attacks that took place yesterday were in Mai Sat Par, located north of Laiza, and in Inkharan Gagan.
Artillery shells were also launched at the Arakan Army (AA) camp in Mong Lai Khat but fell short of target.
The AA, one of the 3 groups excluded from signing the NCA, was trained by the KIA and still maintains soldiers in area, often supporting it on military campaigns against the Burma Army in Kachin State and independently in Arakan State.
Lt-Col Naw Bu said: “I believe this was an attempt by the Burma Army to pressure us to attend the 21st Century Panglong Conference and sign the NCA.”
At the time of press no retaliation against the Burma Army for the attacks has been taken, Naw Bu said.
Reporting by N.M.G
Translated by Thida Linn
Reporting by BNI staff