Burma Army Extorts, Threatens and Continues Its Attacks in Northern Burma
22 April 2019
Kachin and Northern Shan States
The Burma Army remained active during the month of March, clashing with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), arresting officers from two different ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), and harassing civilians.
Burma Army troops often set up checkpoints to search civilians traveling between villages, but during March the Burma Army also committed theft and extortion. On March 4 at 0900 in Danai Township, an estimated 20 Burma Army soldiers from Infantry Battalion (IB) 29 arrived at the Ko Oo market, which stands on the way to Lawt Ja Village. They opened a checkpoint and stopped civilians passing through. Soldiers then confiscated three barrels of fuel from businessman Maung Naing, who runs a gold mining operation in the Hpalu Pa area, and extorted 200,000 kyats from him to take on their trip back to base. On March 6, on the way to the Wahka Ja Maw mining area, Burma Army soldiers carried out a similar checkpoint and extortion scheme. They confiscated a fuel cargo truck belonging to Mr. Maung Htay and extorted 500,000 kyats.
On March 8, Burma Army troops stationed at the Maran Kahtawng checkpoint, Dum Bang checkpoint, and Nawngmi checkpoint carried out extensive checks on civilians going to and from Danai Township. On March 20 at 2100, Burma Army troops from IB 44 confiscated Mr. Kyaw San’s wood machines, as well as the wood he had processed, and took everything to Si Bang Village in Mansi Township.
The Burma Army also arrested township staff and officers belonging to various EAOs. On March 4 at 1900, Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) township staff Maran Brang Tawng and Sumlut Naw Ring were traveling on duty in Kuthkai Township when they were arrested by the Burma Army. On March 7, a KIO township officer, Mr. Maran Zau Hpang, was arrested by Burma Army soldiers in Waimaw Township at the Sadung-Chipwe road junction. On March 10, Burma Army troops led by the commander of the Kalay Regional Operations Command called upon four National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) leaders and detained them in Hkanti Base, which belongs to Burma Army IB 52. The NSCN-K leaders are Mr. Am Mai, Mr. Kyaw Win Sein, Mr. Awng Seng and Mr. Am Wang.
In addition to harassing civilians and arresting officers, the Burma Army also initiated several clashes with the Kachin Independence Army. On March 6 between 1315 and 1400 hours, KIA soldiers from the 8th Battalion defended against an attack launched by combined Burma Army forces from IB 45, IB 69, and Light Infantry Division (LID) 99. The clash took place at Nam Sung Bum near Nahkyeng Mandung, in Manton Township. The same Burma Army infantry battalions (IB 45 and IB 69) clashed again with the KIA 8th Battalion five days later on March 11 at 0645 hours, also in Manton Township between Nawng Hoi and Man Lu (Palawng Village). On March 21, the KIA responded by sending KIA MKM militiamen from 36th Battalion to initiate a remote mine attack against LID 99 at 1100 hours while they were traveling from Nawng Heng in Muse Township. The mine detonation affected an estimated 40 Burma Army soldiers.
Burma Army troops also clashed with MNDAA troops between Nam Rim Village and Nawng Seng Village. The clash happened in Kokang Self-Administered Zone in northern Shan State on March 13 at 0730 hours.
On March 29, in Mansi Township, a Burma Army artillery unit stationed at Kaihtik Base indiscriminately fired two 82mm rounds towards Man Chyam and Du Hku Bum. Another artillery unit stationed in the same township at Chyau Hpra fired three 82mm rounds at Bau Noi and Hpara Lungdu Kawng.
The effects of war continue even where the Burma Army is not directly involved. Six children were injured on March 5 at 0930 when they happened across a Burma Army hand grenade while tending cattle. They started playing with the grenade and it exploded. The children were from Manwing Gaihtau Village in Mansi Township and have been identified as Nhkum San Awng (m), Nhkum Sut Ring Awng (m), Nhkum Nan Nan (f), Nhkum Mun Pan (f), Maru Seng Myu Awng (m), and Pausang Jat Seng Naw (m).