Myanmar airforce ‘destroyed timber trucks’ in Kachin State: NGO

28 April 2015
Myanmar airforce ‘destroyed timber trucks’ in Kachin State: NGO
A logging company truck allegedly targeted in an air strike. Photo: Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)

An exiled NGO alleges timber trucks have been destroyed by Myanmar military aircraft in an attempt to stifle the flow of money to the Kachin Independence Organisation.
The Free Burma Rangers claim in a press release on April 28 that Myanmar forces launched several attacks on KIO controlled areas March 22-26 targeting trucks waiting to pass through the rebel area. A total of 54 vehicles were either destroyed or abandoned.
The trucks are said to have come from Sagaing Division and Shan State where they cross through majority government held territory before moving through rebel territory, on route to China.
KIO soldiers took photos of the burnt out trucks carrying timber through rebel held territory where funds are paid to the organisation. One of the ways the group raises funds is by taxing all goods coming through the area.
In 2014, Myanmar forces began offensives to gain control of major timber transport routes west of the Shweli River.
This year they are accused of using ground attacks and airstrikes.
An unnamed Kachin Independence Army colonel said: ”The timber trucks got into KIO controlled territories after providing the required entry tax levied by Burmese Government departments first.”
“All the logging trucks came from Mandalay Division or Sagaing Division where the Burma Army controls and were officially checked and permitted after paying taxes to Army checkpoints, police checkpoints, Immigration Department and Forest Department.”
The Colonel also accused the Myanmar government of trying to control KIO areas.
Continued fighting has been reported in the region earlier this month when government forces moved on posts in Tanai and Hpakant on April 18, leading to casualties on both sides.
Government forces and the KIA blame each other for the conflict that occurred over Myanmar’s Buddhist holiday, Thingyan.
Several commentators have speculated that the Myanmar government may use ethnic conflicts as an excuse to delay the general elections set for the end of the year.