KIO officially opens Myitkyina office as fighting continues

 

KACHIN NEWS 25.JULY 2013

During a well-attended ceremony in the Kachin state capital Myitkyina on Tuesday the Kachin Independence Organization’s (KIO) Technical Advisory Team officially opened its office.  The ceremony took place at the same time as government forces and KIO troops clashed in north western Shan state, something that the office is supposed to help avoid from happening.

The newly opened office is located in Myitkyina’s Shatapru quarter (opposite the Kachin National Manau Park) in a building that previously served as the KIO’s liaison office until it was closed in 2010, a victim of deteriorating relations between the KIO and Burmese authorities at the time.

Col. Gawlu La Awng the KIO’s Deputy Foreign Affairs representative will lead a team of 14 staff who will work at the office.  Four staff have come directly from the KIO and 10 others are Kachin civilians from government-controlled areas, according to N-shang San Awng of the Myitkyina-based Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG).  The PCG is a group of Kachin businessmen who have facilitated the ongoing Kachin peace process between the government and the KIO.

The opening ceremony was attended by the President Thein Sein’s chief peace negotiator U Aung Min. Other attendees included local government officials and military officers affiliated with the Northern Regional Command.  Sumlut Gam, a senior officer from the KIO led a small delegation from the group’s Laiza headquarters.  An assistant working for the UN’s special Burma envoy Vijay Nambiar was also present for the ceremony, according to N-shang San Awng.

The creation of a KIO Technical Advisory Team was stipulated in a 7-point agreement concluded at the end of May in which both the KIO and the government promised to reduce tensions but stepped short of a full ceasefire.  The Technical Advisory Team is supposed to liaise with the government in order to prevent fighting from taking place.  It remains to be seen how much impact the Technical Advisory Team will have on the situation in Kachin and Kachin inhabited areas of north western Shan state.

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Fighting takes place same day as KIO office opening

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While representatives of the KIO and the government shook hands in Myitkyina on Tuesday, KIO forces and government troops shot at each other in northern Shan state.  The fighting which took place near Hpai Kawng village in Pangsai (Kyukok) township lasted for more than two hours and saw government forces use artillery against KIO targets.

The fighting began when a column of Burma army troops from Infantry Battalion No. 123 intruded into territory controlled by the KIO militia MHH (Mungshawa Hpyen Hpung), according to Zau Seng, a commander with the MHH Section 5 based in the Pangsai (Kyukok) region.

The Burmese military column consisting of dozens of troops and three horses was dispatched from nearby Mongkoe, Zau Seng said.  Skirmishes between the KIO and government forces also took place in northern Shan state in an area around Hpai Kawng yesterday, Zau Seng added.

According to KIO sources fighting also broke out yesterday in Mantong township, another hot spot located in north western Shan state.  The fighting involved government forces and troops from the Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) Battalion 8 and took place in an area close to the Shwe gas pipeline project. Trrops from the KIO allied Shan State Army (SSA) North and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) also took part, KIO sources report.

 

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