ICC Note: The Kachin Independence Army is planning to launch new offensives on April 10 against the Myanmar military in Kachin state. The majority Christian ethnic minority group has been rocked by a resurgence of conflict since 2011 when a 17-year bilateral cease-fire agreement between the government and KIA broke down. The clashes have left hundreds dead and more than 100,000 displaced.
04/05/2018 Myanmar (Radio Free Asia) – The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) will launch new offensives against the Myanmar military on April 10 in an isolated valley area of the Tanaing township gold and amber mining region in Kachin state, the ethnic armed group said on Thursday.
The latest round of fighting between the two sides began early this year when government soldiers launched air strikes in Tanaing, an area controlled by the KIA, which relies on its natural resources as a source of income by levying a tax on mine operators.
The KIA believes that Myanmar forces have been stepping up their attacks on rebel-held territory in hopes of gaining control of it before the next round of negotiations in the government’s peace conference initiative in May.
The KIA warned those who are working illegally in gold and amber mines in isolated Hukawng valley in northernmost Myanmar’s Kachin state to leave the area before the attacks begin, according to a statement issued by the group.
“The KIA doesn’t want civilians to get hurt on account of the fighting,” said Colonel Naw Bu, spokesman for the KIA and its political wing the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). “That’s why we issued an announcement telling them to leave the area where fighting between the KIA and government army could occur.”
The Myanmar army has not yet responded to the KIA’s announcement about the upcoming offensive.
State media reported previously that the ethnic militia had been conducted assaults on the regional military headquarters in Kachin since late January.
The Myanmar military has accused the Kachin rebel group of illegally using the area’s natural resources and taking money from mining businesses that should otherwise go to the state.
In February, it asked the KIA to move the headquarters of its Battalion 14 and other outposts from the Tanaing region, where it believed the KIO was conducting illegal business.
But Naw Bu said the KIA is not running illicit operations in the region.
“The KIA has gold and amber mine companies that are operating with the government’s permission,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “In recent years, government army troops have taken up all the gold and amber mines and asked people to work there. There are always government army columns in the KIA’s Battalion 14 area.”
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