Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) spokesman Lt. Col. Naw Bu said that the forthcoming 21st Century Panglong conference would be affected to some extent by heavy weapon shells that were fired near Laiza, the GHQ of Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
“The heavy weapon shells believed to be 81 mm, were fired on our frontline posts in the security area of 5th Brigade on August 18 between 10 and 11 a.m. Similarly, shells were also fired at our 24th Battalion under command of 4th Brigade and on another post of the Students’ Army. They also fired 81 mm shells from their Khra Bum point on Mai Pa Sat and Mong Lai Khrek villages which are close to KIA frontline posts,” he said.
Lt. Col. Naw Bu said, “They fired heavy weapons shells on our positions and they launched an offensive in our area of control while the peace conference is drawing very close. I assume that they want to harass and obstruct the upcoming peace conference as KIA is not a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). They might want to exert pressure on us to sign the NCA by launching an offensive.”
Mizzima repeatedly tried to contact the Kachin State government and Myanmar military to confirm the shelling of KIA positions, however, there was no response so Mizzima cannot confirm the details.
KIO central committee member Salam Kabar Dwe Pisar said that local residents were concerned about their safety after shells fell on a suburb of Laiza and they were worried about imminent fighting in their areas.
Dwe Pisa added that government troops had fired heavy weapons into the Sadone-Kampaiti area near Waingmaw Township on 14 August and then launched military offensives in the area until 17 August.
“We worry about the situation as they are shelling elsewhere in the area. They fired shells on the Lai Hpawng post of KIA 3rd Battalion across the Tabet creek about ten times. And then they fired again on August 16 four or five times. And then there was a clash with government troops at about 4 p.m. after they launched an offensive against us. They fired shells again yesterday morning,” Dwe Pisa said. Government troops are still launching an offensive against them, he added.
Similarly, KIA has been fighting with government troops in Tanai area under the control of 14th Battalion under the command of KIA 2nd Brigade and in Phakant area under the control of KIA 6th Battalion since early August.
Shells fired on August 15 near Nayyar village, Phakant Township, fell on the middle school wounding a school teacher and a student.