Locals Unable to Communicate with Villagers and Pastor Detained by Burma Army in Muse District

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Locals have said they remain unable to communicate with villagers who have been detained by the military during clashes between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Shan State’s Muse District.

The Burma Army and the KIA fought near Mang Dau village on the morning of March 4, locals told NMG.

“All Mang Dau villagers fled the clash. They haven’t returned to their village. Burmese soldiers arrested four villagers, including a pastor, during the clash. We haven’t communicated with them since that time,” a local man told NMG on the condition of anonymity.

The pastor has been identified as Lamai Tu Jai.

According to locals, Mang Dau villagers sought refuge in the church in Nam Hkawng village after fleeing their homes.

“They haven’t returned to their village. They are just villagers. I don’t understand why [the military] arrested civilians,” the local man explained. “Burmese soldiers have been patrolling the area for three or four days. We are all afraid of the soldiers. We are afraid to stay in our village.”

The KIA has confirmed that they have had clashes with the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion (IB) 287 since the IB entered territory under the control of the KIA’s Battalion 36 under Brigade 6.

“More than 100 soldiers from IB 287 came from the Nam Hkawng Khu area. They entered the area under the KIA’s control. The KIA’s Battalion 36 tried to stop the Burma Army, so we had clashes with them,” a KIA officer told NMG from the front line.

The officer said that clashes had stopped at the time of reporting, but that the Burma Army soldiers were continuing to occupy the area, so tension remained high.

“I cannot say that clashes are over in the area,” he told NMG, adding that he did not know whether the Burmese forces had suffered casualties. He claimed that no KIA soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

He also said that the Burmese military had not sent reinforcement troops into the area.

Col Naw Bu, who is in charge of the Kachin Independence Organization’s information department, said that the KIA and the Burma Army have not recently clashed in Kachin State, but have had episodes of fighting with Burmese troops in Muse District since February, when the military carried out a coup and ousted the Burma’s elected government.

Burmese forces clashed with the KIA’s Battalion 9, also under Brigade 6, near Den Nai village in Muse on February 20. A local man in the village was killed in the artillery shell fire.

According to Col. Naw Bu, Burma army has launched military offensive on ethnic armed organizations after seizing country’s power. Military offensive can impact on restoring peace in country. They are concerning about intensifying clashes will occur.