Myanmar military sends reinforcements to Kachin as KIA launches ambushes 

The Myanmar military this week sent reinforcements to villages in the northwest of Kachin State where its forces have clashed with soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a spokesperson for the rebel group said. 

Roughly 40 military vehicles carrying supplies left the town of Mokaung on Tuesday, travelling north along Ledo road on their way to reinforce troops in Tanai. 

Junta troops from Tanai travelled south to meet them at Ting Kauk village on Wednesday but were ambushed by the KIA on their way, said Colonel Naw Bu, the KIA’s information officer.

He said he was unable to provide further details. 

Junta soldiers had until recently restricted their movements to the area between Tanai and Shing Bwi Yang in the northwest of Kachin but now they are also active further south in Hpakant and Mokaung, Naw Bu said.

Junta troops have stationed themselves in several villages in Hpakant and have been active along Ledo road, which runs north from Mokaung and is the only route connecting the town to Tanai. 

The villages where the troops have stationed themselves include Lawa, Hkun Saiyang and Dunbonehka.  

Many locals from Hkun Saiyang have fled to the larger village of Lawa to avoid what they fear will be intense clashes in the near future. 

There are still soldiers stationed at Ta Ron village, which sits along Ledo road between Tanai and Shing Bwi Yang, after a clash there in September, Naw Bu said. 

Many locals from Ta Ron have been displaced and soldiers there are stationed at schools and religious buildings, according to a resident from the area. 

“They’re still in the villages. Many young people and men don’t dare to stay in the villages anymore. Almost all of them have fled,” he said.

The junta has been trying to send reinforcement troops from Tanai to Shing Bwi Yang since early September but they have been repeatedly intercepted by the KIA near the villages of Ta Ron, Ta Hket and La Jar bum, which is why they have been forced to set up camp in Ta Ron. 

Regional Operation Command is planning to increase the number of military bases between Tanai and Shing Bwi Yang, Naw Bu said. 

In a separate incident in southern Kachin on Thursday, KIA soldiers ambushed a column of roughly 100 troops from the junta’s 437th Light Infantry Battalion near the base of the Long Ja hill just outside of Momauk, Naw Bu said.  

The junta is also using the Irrawaddy river as a route to send its troops into Kachin, and its naval forces are often intercepted by KIA and People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters at the border with Sagaing. 

There has also been a build up of junta troops in eastern Kachin near Laiza, where the KIA has its headquarters, said Naw Bu.

In a speech to mark Kachin Martyrs’ Day in August, KIA leader General N’Ban La said the rebel group had decided to eradicate the dictatorship and would be collaborating with the people of Myanmar and various groups on military and political matters. 

The junta has not spoken publicly about the clashes in Kachin State since May. 

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