A large number of Burma Army troop reinforcements have arrived in Kachin State's jade rich Hpakant township over the past week following the heavy fighting that took place there last week between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Kachin News has learned.
Major Tang San, of the KIA's Battalion 6 told the Kachin News that heavy clashes between KIA forces and army units took place in two separate places on 22nd January. The clashes ceased on 23rd January, the same the day the army dispatched more troops to areas in Hpakant close to KIA battalions 6 forces.
“Today looks calm, there's nothing this evening because there are no more attacks from the Burma army, they are increasing their forces with two more battalions arriving yesterday so there are now 12 battalions here right now,” Major Tang San told the Kachin News during an interview conducted on 24th January.
The heavy fighting began on 15th January and lasted until 22nd January. During the clashes large numbers of government forces started attacking KIA battalion 6 units in Hpakant township.
The fighting erupted shortly after KIA forces detained three policemen who were accompanying the Kachin State transportation minister while he was travelling from Hpakant by road on 14th January.
Although the KIA freed the thee detainees, government forces continued to make it difficult for aid to be sent to a group of more than 1,000 villagers from Aung Ba Lay who were displaced by the fighting in Hpakant and taking shelter in Gisi village, which already had about 1,000 inhabitants. A group of prominent Kachin businessman from the Kachin Peace-Talk Creation Group (PCG) and church leaders were denied permission to visit the estimated 2,000 civilians trapped in Gisi village.
Many Kachin believe that the army is refusing to let the trapped villagers leave because the army wants to use them as a kind of human shield to prevent a KIA counter-attack.
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