Bomb shrap­nel kills in­fant

A two-year-old was killed and two other chil­dren were in­jured by the a shelling of Pu Wang vil­lage in Shan State on Oc­to­ber 1 dur­ing an es­ca­la­tion in fight­ing be­tween the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army and the Tat­madaw.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­times.com

A GIRL as young as two years old was killed and two other chil­dren were in­jured when an ar­tillery shell struck near their homes on the morn­ing of Oc­to­ber 1, as fight­ing has in­ten­si­fied in re­cent weeks in north­ern Shan state.

Mang­shang Zung Myaw died of a shrap­nel wound in Pu Wang vil­lage, Mong Ko town, while six-year-old Lagwi Bom Lang sus­tained se­vere in­juries to the ab­domen and five-year-old Lagwi Ting Kyang was struck in the thigh, said U San Aung, a mem­ber of the Peace Cre­ation Group. The strike took place near the Chi­nese bor­der in Muse town­ship.

“One passed away a few min­utes af­ter be­ing hit by a bomb frag­ment and the other two se­ri­ously in­jured were then sent to hos­pi­tal,” said U San Aung, whose group was cre­ated to fa­cil­i­tate peace ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army and the Tat­madaw.

Fight­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment troops and the KIA has been on­go­ing over the course of the last month. Yes­ter­day, how­ever, the bat­tle­field was silent, ac­cord­ing to Lieu­tenant Colonel Naw Bu, a KIA com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer.

Lo­cal vil­lagers be­lieve the shell that killed Mang­sheng Zung Myaw was fired by the Tat­madaw.

“I think that is true, based on our on-the-ground in­for­ma­tion,” Lt Col Naw Bu said of the in­ci­dent.

Fight­ing be­tween the Tat­madaw and the KIA in Kachin and north­ern Shan states erupted in mid-Au­gust and per­sisted in­ter­mit­tently through­out Septem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to Lt Col Naw Bu, the lat­est clashes took place on Oc­to­ber 1, when Bat­tal­ion No 36 of the KIA’s Brigade 6 ex­changed fire with Tat­madaw sol­diers. He could not pro­vide fig­ures on ca­su­al­ties.

“The fight­ing has in­ten­si­fied since the mid­dle of Septem­ber. The Tat­madaw is us­ing mil­i­tary air­craft and armed forces. Fierce fight­ing oc­curred in N’Hkam Bum, a se­cu­ri­tised zone for the KIA’s head­quar­ters at Laiza,” he said.

“At least 10 times fire was ex­changed in N’Hkam Bum,” he added.

In ad­di­tion to Tat­madaw air and ground forces, U San Aung said the bat­tle­field has seen new ac­tors en­ter the fray.

“We have ev­i­dence of the pres­ence of lo­cal mili­tias” co­op­er­at­ing with the Tat­madaw in bat­tle against the KIA, U San Aung said.

He said he had ob­tained an of­fi­cial let­ter sent to a lo­cal mili­tia group re­quest­ing that it sup­ply troops in the Tat­madaw’s con­flict with the KIA.

U San Aung said the Peace Cre­ation Group sent a let­ter to State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Septem­ber 23, call­ing for an end to mil­i­tary of­fen­sives in eth­nic ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly against the KIA. How­ever, the group’s call for de-es­ca­la­tion has not yet re­ceived an of­fi­cial re­sponse from the state coun­sel­lor, her of­fice or the Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Cen­ter.

No of­fi­cial fig­ures on civil­ian dis­place­ment due to the lat­est fight­ing in the Kachin and Shan states have been made avail­able.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is chair of the Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Cen­ter, a lead­ing or­gan in on­go­ing peace talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions. She is also chair of the Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee, a tri­par­tite com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of gov­ern­ment – ex­ec­u­tives, leg­isla­tive and Tat­madaw rep­re­sen­ta­tives – po­lit­i­cal par­ties and eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions that is lay­ing the ground­work for fu­ture po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue.

The state coun­sel­lor does not, how­ever, ex­ert civil­ian con­trol over the mil­i­tary.

The Peace Cre­ation Group was formed to as­sist with con­flict abate­ment through a dis­putes res­o­lu­tion mech­a­nism. U San Aung said the mech­a­nism is not work­ing cur­rently be­cause stake­hold­ers were more in­ter­ested in pre­sent­ing com­plaints rather than find­ing mu­tu­ally agree­able so­lu­tions.

“The meet­ings have be­come a place where they present their prob­lems. It is no longer about re­solv­ing the con­flicts among them,” he said.

The lat­est fight­ing be­tween the KIA and the Tat­madaw has also raised con­cerns about the broader im­pli­ca­tions for Myan­mar’s peace process. The eth­nic Kachin armed group is an in­flu­en­tial and lead­ing mem­ber of the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil, a bloc of seven eth­nic armed groups that have not yet signed the so-called na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment.

Lt Col Naw Bu ques­tioned the in­ten­tions of the mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment.

“I think it shows that they are not so ea­ger to have peace talks with us,” he said.

U San Aung in­sisted that the fight­ing was tied to the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence that con­cluded last month, and eth­nic armed groups’ re­peated calls for con­sti­tu­tional re­form over the course of the four-day event.

“While most of the par­tic­i­pants who de­liv­ered their mes­sages at the con­fer­ence ex­pressed that they were will­ing to amend the con­sti­tu­tion, the Tat­madaw was the one that was not call­ing for con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment. I think they have that con­cern and that’s why – es­ca­la­tion is a so­lu­tion,” he said.

‘One passed away a few min­utes af­ter ... and the other two se­ri­ously in­jured were sent to hos­pi­tal.’

U San Aung Peace Cre­ation Group mem­ber

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