KIA, PDF slow junta troops’ advance through Kachin State using explosives, artillery

Despite forcing civilian hostages to walk in front of them, a column of infantry reinforcements triggered explosives twice on its way to join ongoing battles in Hpakant Township

Anti-junta groups targeted a Myanmar army column with explosives and artillery for three days this week as it moved through Kachin State’s Mohnyin Township near Indawgyi Lake, according to resistance sources. 

A junta infantry column of around 70 troops, advancing from the town of Nam Mun, Mohnyin Township to Indawgyi, triggered explosives set in their path by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Indawgyi People’s Defence Force (PDF) on September 12 near Shwe Let Pan village, a mile from the lake’s southern shore. 

The infantry column then stopped for the night at Mong Nawng village, a few miles west of Shwe Let Pan. The following day as the junta was leaving the Mong Nawng, the alliance of KIA and Indawgyi PDF fighters fired on them using heavy artillery, an Indawgyi PDF spokesperson said. 

Close to the same time, junta troops took six local gold mine workers hostage to use as human shields.

“When they needed to pass through a village and there was a gold mine nearby, they would force the gold mine workers to walk in front of them as protection against any explosives set by resistance forces,” an Indawgyi PDF member said. 

On September 13, the junta column arrived near Ma Mon Kaing village southwest of the lake, released the civilian hostages, and stayed overnight in miners’ shelters near the village. 

On Thursday morning as the junta column left the area, resistance groups set explosives in their path near Long Ton village, the site of a temporary junta base.

“They didn’t use the usual road, they moved through the fields instead. So we didn’t plant explosives on the road at the entrance to Long Ton Village, but laid the explosives to the side of their route, and they walked right into them,” the PDF fighter said. 

The Indawgyi PDF estimated that at least 10 of the column’s soldiers were killed in the attacks on them this week, but the casualty figures could not be verified independently. 

The military council has not published any statements regarding the attacks in Mohnyin Township.

It took the junta column three full days to travel the 10 miles from Nam Mun to Long Ton. Their concern about explosives was probably what slowed their progress, members of the Indawgyi PDF said, as they opted to cross fields and mining areas rather than travel via the main roads. 

On Thursday afternoon, the junta column reached and stationed in Ho Par Kone village,  near Long Ton and the Indawgyi PDF said it had intelligence that the troops would continue on to Tar Ma Hkan village in the state’s Hpakant Township, the site of intense clashes in recent days. 

According to a local man in his 50s, residents of the area had not had time to flee and had to go about their daily lives cautiously with the military stationed there. 

A junta force of around 1,000 troops has been fighting for control of Nam Sang Yang village, Hpakant Township, located on the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway en route to the KIA headquarters in Laiza, for more than two months. 

Colonel Naw Bu, a spokesperson for the KIA, left a post on Facebook saying that more than 50 junta troops had been killed and more than 100 injured in July and August in battles on the Myitkyina-Bhamo road. 

The military council has not published recent statements about battles in the area, and the casualty figures could not be verified independently. 

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