Junta forces free three detained locals in Kachin State, keep 30 more in custody

Three civilians, out of more than 30 held hostage by the military in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township, were released on Monday, according to local sources. 

They included a teacher, a student, and an individual who had been suffering from a lung condition. All three had been taken from Namya village on November 30 by a junta column travelling along the road connecting the community to the town of Hpakant, 20 miles to the west. 

At the time of reporting, some 20 men abducted on the route were being held at a military base near Namya, with 13 more Namya locals taken to another tactical base in Kamaing town on December 1. It was not known why they were captured. 

On Monday, Namya’s village administrator and a 100-household head inquired about the detainees at the base, but were barred from meeting with them, a resident of the village said. 

“They only told us that they would release them in one or two days,” he told Myanmar Now.

Later that evening, three of the civilians were allowed to leave.

On the same day, a serious clash broke out between the military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the village of Hmaw Bone, 10 miles northeast of Hpakant town, with the junta’s forces reportedly firing several heavy weapons at the site from multiple locations.

A column of some 100 soldiers began an advance from Kansi village, more than seven miles north of Hmaw Bone, but were intercepted by the KIA, resulting in the battle, according to local sources. 

A Hpakant resident said that artillery shells were fired at Hmaw Bone by the military from their Hpakant tactical base and a post set up at the jail in the village of San Khar, more than six miles north of the town. Two bombs also reportedly went off near a bridge outside of Lawng Hkang (Lone Khin) village—10 miles south of Kansi—followed by gunshots.

“The battle didn’t end at night, and I think I still heard the sound of fighting even this morning,” the woman from Hpakant told Myanmar Now on Tuesday. “They must have been losing, considering they had to resort to using heavy weapons,” she speculated.

At the time of reporting, it was not known if there had been any casualties on either side during the clash. 

Locals from Hmaw Bone fled to other area communities when the fighting broke out, while some remained trapped in the village monastery. 

Battles in Hpakant between the KIA and the Myanmar army have been frequent since the military’s aerial attack on a music festival in A Nang Pa village in October, killing more than 60 people and wounding at least 100 more. 

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