Fight­ing re­sumes be­tween KIA and Tat­madaw

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LUN MIN MANG YEE MON TUN news­room@mm­times.com

As the Pan­g­long peace con­fer­ence ap­proaches, skir­mishes have in­ten­si­fied near Laiza be­tween gov­ern­ment troops and the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army.

IN­TENSE fight­ing be­tween the Tat­madaw and the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA) con­tin­ues with just one week be­fore the start of the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, to be held from Au­gust 31 to Septem­ber 4 in Nay Pyi Taw with the hopes of fos­ter­ing peace be­tween the coun­try’s armed eth­nic groups.

Fight­ing erupted last week in KIA­con­trolled ar­eas but has in­ten­si­fied this week. Lieu­tenant Colonel Naw Bu, com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer for the KIA, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that the Tat­madaw had used mil­i­tary air­craft against the Kachin group on Au­gust 23.

Yes­ter­day’s ex­change of fire be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and the KIA started early in the morn­ing, he said.

“The fight­ing area is very close to the head­quar­ters of the KIA in Laiza,” he said. “It hap­pened near Lai Hpawng vil­lage where a KIA bat­tal­ion has bases.”

Sec­ondary con­fir­ma­tion of the fight­ing could not be made with the Tat­madaw. Ca­su­al­ties for both sides also re­main un­con­firmed.

Fight­ing started on Au­gust 18 when Tat­madaw forces launched ar­tillery at­tacks against KIA posts near its Laiza head­quar­ters.

“I think the Tat­madaw want to ex­ert pres­sure on the KIA to sign the na­tion­wide ceasefire agree­ment and to at­tend the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue,” Lt Col Naw Bu said.

At the end of July, the KIA hosted a sum­mit of armed eth­nic groups in its ter­ri­tory of Mai Ja Yang, with eth­nic politi­cians and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, in prepa­ra­tion for the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence.

Last week, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Del­e­ga­tion for Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion, a body rep­re­sent­ing the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil, met with the gov­ern­ment’s peace ne­go­tia­tors, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the armed eth­nic groups that have signed the na­tion­wide ceasefire agree­ment, to re­view the frame­work for po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue.

Be­ing an in­flu­en­tial group in­side the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil, the KIA de­clined to sign last year’s NCA even though the group and an­other six armed eth­nic groups re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion from then-pres­i­dent U Thein Sein.

A 17-year ceasefire be­tween the KIA and the gov­ern­ment broke down in 2011 when the Tat­madaw launched of­fen­sives against KIA po­si­tions, caus­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of civil­ians to flee the area.

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