Tatmadaw and KIA Clash in Kachin, Shan States

Fighting broke out in Bhamo and Kutkai townships, leading to concern among locals that armed conflict will intensify.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Government forces clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State’s Bhamo Township and in Kutkai in northern Shan State on Friday.

As a result, the Burma Army reportedly seized a military post belonging to the KIA in Bhamo, causing concern among locals that fighting will intensify.

“Clashes lasted a few minutes. The Burma Army shot three rounds of heavy weapons. I think KIA soldiers withdrew from the post. After that, the Burma Army seized the KIA’s post after the shooting,” a Bhamo resident told NMG, adding that the fighting occurred at around 6 a.m.

The individual added that KIA’s Battalion 5 is deployed to the area west of the Irrawaddy River, and that government forces had moved in to that area over the last two weeks, including with reinforcement troops.

The area of Bhamo where the conflict occurred is largely home to ethnic Burman, Lisu and Shan communities.

Preceding the Bhamo clashes on the 19th, government troops also exchanged gunfire with the KIA in Kutkai Township in neighboring Shan State on Thursday evening in Ga Leng and Na Hkyeng villages.

Locals told NMG that the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Divisions 88 and 99 were involved.

“Villagers are so afraid,” one Kutkai resident told NMG. “Some villagers fled after hearing the sound of gunshots. They came home later to see their animals. All villagers are afraid.”

Community members sought refuge in a nearby internally displaced people’s camp while some stayed with relatives. Others hid in the jungle.

NMG tried to contact the KIA’s information department but could not establish communication at the time of reporting. The Burma Army’s True News Information Team has not reported any news about the clashes.

The Burma Army and the KIA also faced battles in the Sin Bo area of Kachin State’s Myitkyina Township on October 11.