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Kachin News Group: KIA loses post in Kyaukme after Burma army offensive

KIA loses post in Kyaukme after Burma army offensive ( click to view article)

A post in Shan state's Kyaukme township controlled by the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) was abandoned earlier on Wednesday, following an offensive by the Burma army.

The post located some 70 miles northeast of Mandalay is situated on Loi Hkam Bum mountain and was controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Battalion 34 (under the group's 4th Brigade). It is now held by the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion No. 17 who took control after two hours of fighting on Wednesday afternoon, according to an officer with the KIA's Fourth Brigade.

The fighting began when a group of 100 troops, based in Hkun Hka in Mongmit township, attacked the post from two different sides using heavy artillery, the KIA officer said. At the time of the fighting the post was guarded by about 15 troops from the KIO's civilian militia known as the Mungshawa Hpyen Hpung (MHH).

According to the KIA officer there were no casualties on the Kachin side however there were likely several on the government side. The fighting took place on Wednesday as representatives from 17 of Burma's major armed rebel groups arrived in Laiza, the KIO's de facto capital, for a three day conference.

Skirmishes continue in southern Kachin state

Fighting between the KIA and government forces also broke out Wednesday night in southern Kachin state, according to KIA officials and local villagers. The clashes involved troops from KIA Battalion 12 and government soldiers under the control of Military Operation Command-21. The clashes occurred in Kawng Ja village in southern Kachin state's Mansi (or Manje) township and in Mabein township in neighboring Shan state.

The fighting in Kawng Ja began at 4:30PM and lasted for nearly three hours, according to Maj. Labang Jawn Awng, commander of KIA Battalion 12. Three KIA soldiers were wounded in the fighting Labang Jawn Awng said. It is unclear however if any government troops were injured in the fighting.

Heavy fighting also took place on October 28th and 29th at old Awng Nan village on the road to Saga Nam Hkum in Mabein. The fighting in Mabein involved KIA forces and a column of government troops from Tactical Command No 3 led by Maj. Min Naing (also under MOC 21). The government troops were providing support for troops from Tactical Command No. 2 who were already pinned down by KIA forces in the Saga Nam Hkum area, Major Labang Jawng Awng told KNG. Tactical Command No. 2 is led by Maj. Moe Zaw.

The KIO is the strongest member of the 12 armed ethnic alliance, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC). The alliance’s leadership has been skeptical of the government's goal of having a national ceasefire before the end of the year.