Junta jets launch airstrikes after rebel coalition seizes base in Kachin 

The Myanmar military used fighter jets to bomb rebel-held positions in Kachin State’s Putao Township this week as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) teamed up with the People’s Defence Force (PDF) to fight the junta’s ground forces. 

Fighting broke out in the area on February 1 as the KIA-PDF alliance seized and burned down a base from a junta-backed militia near Tsum Pi Yang village, and the junta responded with an airstrike that injured five civilians. 

Clashes continued into the month, and in late February around 100 junta soldiers arrived from the town of Putao to fight the KIA-PDF alliance in Tsum Pi Yang and the nearby village of In See Yang. 

The alliance of the KIA-PDF has been ambushing the junta troops since then, and a fresh clash erupted on Tuesday. 

“An on-the-ground clash took place near In See Yang yesterday morning,” KIA spokesperson Colonel Naw Bu said on Wednesday. “The military started to use the air force in the afternoon.” 

The junta sent two jets to bomb a rebel camp near Tsum Pi Yang at around 2pm, a 40-year-old man from the village said. “We could hear explosions and gunshots all day long. We were on high alert for the whole day.”

About 1,000 people from Tsum Pi Yang fled last month’s violence and are sheltering in nearby woodlands, and another 600 have fled the village since the clash on Tuesday, he added. 

“They started moving in the evening yesterday. More are moving as we speak today. Some could barely bring their own clothes,” he said.

There was no fighting on Wednesday, Naw Bu said:  “The battle hasn’t resumed yet but the situation remains tense.”

KIA leader General N’Ban La said last year that the rebel group had decided to eradicate the dictatorship and would collaborate with various groups on military and political matters to achieve this goal.

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