KIA: 28 Govt. Troops Killed in Ambush





Officials of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) claim 28 government troops were killed during skirmishes in southern Myitkyina over the weekend—the most Burmese Army casualties since the current Kachin State conflict began on June 9.

KIA sources told The Irrawaddy that they ambushed a military supply column and the high number of government casualties—which included a major—was due to the surprise nature of the attack which took place in unfamiliar surroundings for government troops. A KIA soldier was killed and four others were injured in the fighting.

La Nan, joint-secretary of the KIA’s political wing the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said: “Information is still being collected about the casualties, but is possible that the Burmese Army column included around 60 troops who engaged with KIA soldiers.”

In the skirmishes, 11 government troops including two officers—a captain and a lieutenant—were captured. Along with the soldiers, KIA sources said they seized a 60mm motor, a two-inch motor, a MG47 machine gun and other MA rifles.

Government troops battling the KIA over the weekend were from Infantry Battalion (IB) 21 under the Northern Regional Military Command. IB-21 is one of three battalions operating together against KIA mobilizations in Kachin State, alongside IB-29 and IB-37.

These latest clashes come after two secretaries of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party—former government ministers Aung Thaung and Thein Zaw—traveled to Kachin State capital Myitkyina to meet with members of the Kachin Nationalities Advisory Committee on July 14-15.

However, the government in Naypyidaw’s indirect negotiation with the KIO through the committee seems to have been unsuccessful, while some members of the advisory border committee warned the former ministers that the situation could get worse without a political dialogue.

The two former ministers told Kachin negotiators that they would report what was said at the meeting to Naypyidaw, KIA sources said.

Due to intensifying conflicts and high numbers of casualties in northern and eastern Burma, high ranking government and military officials held an emergency meeting in Naypyidaw at the weekend.

Members of the government’s National Defense and Security Council (NDSC), such as President ex-Gen Thein Sein, First Vice President ex-Gen Tin Aung Myint Oo and Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services Gen Min Aung Hlaing, reportedly appeared at the meeting.

Also present were Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services Lt-Gen Soe Win, Union Defense Minister Maj-Gen Hla Min, Foreign Minister ex-Col Wunna Maung Lwin, Home Minister Lt-Gen Ko Ko and Minister of Border Affairs Maj-Gen Thein Htay.

Although not strictly members of the NDSC, former ministers Aung Thaung and Thein Zaw also reportedly attended the meeting. However, NDSC member Lower House Speaker ex-Gen Shwe Mann and Upper House Speaker ex-Maj-Gen Khin Aung Myint were absent.

Meanwhile, an operational meeting on ethnic issues was also held at the headquarters of the North-East Regional Military Command in Lashio. Tactical officers from the Triangle Regional Military Command, Eastern Regional Military Command and the Middle-East Regional Military Command came to the meeting, according to military sources.

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