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Radio Free Asia

Joint anti-junta forces attack six security posts in Kachin state in three days

2022.02.04 -- Fighters with the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and a branch of the anti-junta People's Defense Force (PDF) militia have targeted six security posts in Myanmar's Kachin state in half as many days, a KIA official said Thursday, marking a sharp increase in clashes in the region.

Col. Naw Bu, the KIA's information officer, told RFA's Myanmar Service that a joint team of KIA and PDF fighters attacked military and police stations in four townships since Feb. 1, including three separate attacks on targets in the townships of Moe Hnyin and Hpakant on Thursday morning alone.

"We received news that they captured the stations," he told RFA's Myanmar Service.

"We have never signed a ceasefire agreement, so we are always at war with the junta troops. We ambush their troops when the circumstances favor us. There is also fighting when the military troops launch offensives, and we defend ourselves."

He said KIA troops captured a police station at Mawhan village in Moe Hnyin manned by "at least 30 people" around 4:00 a.m. on Thursday and "burned down the building."

Col. Naw Bu confirmed that the KIA attacked military troop stations in the villages of Daru Kha and Jaryan, located around 10 miles outside of Hpakant town this morning, but was unable to provide detailed information on the number of causalities suffered.

A resident of Mawhan said the KIA attack on the police station there killed a police commander and two other officers while many others were detained.

He said that when military troops to secure the area arrived after the attack, more than 200 civilians fled their homes.

"The whole police station was burned down," he said.

"At this point, military troops have taken over the Mawhan area. Many civilians have fled. I am also preparing to flee to evade the conflict. If the military launches air raids, we all must go. Our whole village is getting ready to run."

Mawhan village, which lies along Kachin state's border with Sagaing region, is home to more than 600 households and around 1,200 people.

Kai Rein, a resident of Hpa Kant, said junta troops began firing artillery from a nearby hilltop after the attack on Jaryan station was attacked.

"We were terrified that their artillery might land in civilian areas," she said. "They were fighting and firing weapons. People from the area are fleeing to safety."

Residents told RFA that by Thursday evening, the situation had calmed in Jaryan village.

Three earlier attacks

The three attacks on Thursday followed three others two days earlier by joint KIA and PDF forces on the Soon Peyan military station in Putao township, Shein Gat Bon station near Soon Pe Yan village and Kutkhai station in neighboring northern Shan State.

A KIA official told RFA that all three stations were razed in the attacks, and that joint anti-junta forces had arrested a military soldier and confiscated weapons.

A resident of the area that around 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 1, two military fighter jets launched air strikes on Soon Peyan village, destroying two homes and killing an elderly woman in an explosion. Civilians were sheltering at an area church, they said.

Junta Deputy Information Minister Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun told RFA that the KIA was intentionally targeting stations with low numbers of soldiers and policemen in Kachin state and appeared to be ramping up attacks.

"Previously, the KIA don't conduct such attacks in their Kachin territory, and they only fought in northern Sagaing region," he said of the ethnic armed group that has been fighting the military since before the coup it seized power in a Feb. 1, 2021 coup.

"Now, they are ambushing vulnerable police stations with low manpower. We are going to respond to these attacks and take the necessary precautions."

Earlier this month, the KIA's Col. Naw Bu told RFA that the KIA had not launched attacks in Sagaing region and had only "retaliated" against military action in Kachin state. The military usually responds with airstrikes, he said at the time.

Fighting likely to continue

Aung Min Hein, a former lawmaker in Hpakant township in Myanmar's 2020 election, said he expects that fighting will continue between the military and anti-junta forces in the area and throughout the country for the foreseeable future.

"I think the fighting will intensify this year, by both PDFs and [ethnic armed groups] because we are in a revolutionary war," he said.

"[Anti-junta forces] are trying to secure victory in a short time, so they are going to fight at all costs and the fighting will continue and become worse.

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Myanmar's coup. In the past year, security forces have arrested nearly 8,950 civilians and killed more than 1,500 — mostly during nonviolent anti-junta protests, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Reported by RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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