The number of Burmese soldiers killed in the renewed 15-month long Kachin conflict is in the thousands and could be as high as 10,000, say senior leaders of the Kachin Independence Organizations (KIO).
The KIO said its estimates are very rough, and it does not appear to be confident enough in its exact figures to publicly release them, the Kachin News Group (KNG) reported last week.
The nature of the KIO guerilla hit-and-run tactics makes it impossible to get reliable figures of Burmese casualties, it said.
A KIA commander said, “Every battle we have with Burmese troops their casualties are much higher than ours. Some battles saw less than 10 soldiers killed and sometimes up to 50 soldiers were killed. On average, 5 to 7 Burmese soldiers were killed in every battle.”
Burma's public has a right to know how many soldiers have been killed during the Kachin conflict, a war that is taking up large amounts of the national budget, which could be spent on far better things like health care and education, said the KIO.
The KIO said it has lost more than 700 soldiers since June 2011 when the most recent conflict began.
According to KIO officials, of the 700 KIO troops who have died at least 200 were killed by landmines planted by the KIA, which it said was proof of the horror and futility of war.
While in Cambodia in July for an Asean conference, President Thien Sein told the Financial Times that the loss of soldiers from both the government side and the KIO was a concern for him. "When a Kachin soldier or soldier from the national army dies, in both cases it's a Myanmar citizen who dies – so it's a loss to the whole country," Thein Sein said.
It is hard to take to Thein Sein seriously, said the KNG article, when the government keeps sending its soldiers through mine fields to attack the KIO.
According to senior KIO officials, the number of government soldiers believed killed during the ongoing fighting is said to rival or surpass the total number of government troops killed during the first phase of the KIO conflict with the Burmese military, from 1961-1994, said the KNG.