Myanmar rebels capture junta camp near capital of Kachin State

Junta forces killed six civilians and wounded 19 in counter-attacks, residents said.
By RFA Burmese
2024.05.22
Myanmar rebels capture junta camp near capital of Kachin State Kachin Independence Army soldiers stand guard in Laiza, Myanmar, Oct. 29, 2013.
Khin Maung Win/AP

Ethnic minority Kachin insurgents have captured a junta military camp near the state capital of Myitkyina, in northern Myanmar, which has also given them control of a main trade route to the border with China, a spokesman for the rebel group told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday. 

The Kachin Independence Army is one of Myanmar’s most powerful insurgent forces and has made gains in recent weeks with the capture of eight towns in Kachin State and northern Shan State, as well as about 100 junta military camps, it says.

On Tuesday evening, Kachin fighters took control of a junta infantry battalion base in Waingmaw township, about 20 km (12 miles) to the south of the Myitkyina, said Col. Naw Bu, the Kachin Independence Army’s information officer.

 “That camp was providing security for the villages such as Aung Myay 1 and 2, as well as Waingmaw town. So it can be said to be strategically important,” he said.

The territorial gain has also given the Kachin force control of a main road going south, including to the border with China, which is about 40 km (25 miles) to the east. 

“There are no military camps on the other side of the Waingmaw-Laizar-Momauk-Lwegel road. We are stationed here, but we are not allowing cars or others to travel yet due to security reasons,” Naw Bu said. Lwegel is a main crossing for trade on the border with China.

The junta has also not issued any statements on the fighting. RFA tried to telephone Kachin State’s junta spokesperson, Moe Min Thein, to ask about the situation but he did not answer. 

The Kachin force is one several that have made significant gains recently against forces of the junta that overthrew an elected government in early 2021 triggering bloody opposition to military rule.

Pro-democracy fighters have taken up arms and linked up with ethnic minority armies, like the Kachin, which have been battling for self-determination for decades in hilly border regions.

While the opponents of military rule have captured numerous junta bases, towns and villages, in fighting that escalated sharply late last year, none has seized a state capital.

Naw Bu declined to comment on casualties on either side in the latest fighting, or on if any weapons and ammunition had been captured. Ethnic minority Lisu fighters loyal to the junta control two camps in Waingmaw town while a junta infantry battalion holds another position there, he said.

Civilian Deaths

Responding to the Kachin offensive, junta forces bombed Hkat Shu village in southern Waingmaw township on Monday and Tuesday, killing six residents, including children, and wounding 19, according to residents.

A severely wounded woman was taken to hospital in Myitkyina while the rest of the injured were getting treatment at Waingmaw’s hospital, one  resident, who declined to be identified, told RFA.

The junta-backed Myanma Alin newspaper said on Wednesday that the military regime was not responsible for the attacks on Hkat Shu village.

About half of Hkat Shu’s population of 10,000 have fled because of the fighting, residents said.

According to data compiled by RFA, mostly from accounts from residents and the insurgents, nearly 80 civilians were killed in Kachin State due to the junta airstrikes and heavy weapons between Jan. 1 and May 21.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Taejun Kang. 

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