Three civilians living in the Hpakant jade mining district of western Kachin State died on Wednesday, victims of Burmese army artillery fire, according to local residents.
The deaths occurred after Burmese forces fired a series of 81 mm mortar rounds at Maw Mau Bum, a Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)-controlled village located about three miles west of Hpakant, according to an article on the Kachin News Group (KNG) website on Thursday.
Two KIO officers stationed in the village were also killed by the shelling. Three other villagers were injured, said the article.
It appeared that the Burmese army had targeted the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) commander for the Hpakant area Lt-Gen Nhkum Zau Doi as many of the shells landed near his home, residents told KNG.
KIA units in Hpakant have been instructed to stop attacks on government positions since last week when the government sent the KIO a letter asking for another round of peace talks, a KIA soldier based in Hpakant told KNG.
The letter suggested that the two sides meet either the government controlled area of Muse in northern Shan State or in the Chinese border city of Ruili for the next round of talks.
The KIO senior leadership is currently holding internal discussions in preparation for the peace talks, according to a KIO official.
Peace talks between the government and the KIO have been slow to make progress for many reasons including the issue of control over the jade-rich Hpakant area.