Kachin News Group: Ongoing clashes threaten Kachin peace talks

Ongoing clashes threaten Kachin peace talks (click to view)

Fighting concentrated in northern Kachin and Shan states is threatening to uproot a short lived peace in the region. After a seven-point agreement was signed at the end of May's peace talks between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government, fighting slowed down. But in the government-controlled Chipwi Township in northeastern Kachin state clashes have increased since about mid-August. They have also taken place in the KIA 4th brigade area in northern Shan state. The current conflict in both areas could have a negative effect for future peace talks, remarked a KIO official.

Sumlut Gam, leader of the KIO's peace talk delegation, told the Kachin News Group that the May agreement "included reducing military conflict however it was not a ceasefire."

"The agreement has to be obeyed both sides. We will follow it as much as possible, but the government is attacking us so it could affect talks."

Daily clashes have been reported around Law Hkawng and Myaw Jawng areas on the east side of N'Mai Hka river in Chipwi Township. A combined force of Burma Army Light Infantry battalion 521, border guard force (BGF) and local militia attacked a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) battalion 10 post in Law Hkawng on August 17, according to KIA officials in the Laiza headquarters.

Chipwi Township is controlled by the BGF that transformed from the New Democratic Army-Kachin.

Zahkung Ting Ying, a former leader of NDA-K and current MP in parliament told the Kachin News Group that the bloodshed will continue as long as KIA troops remain in territory controlled by the BGF - formerly NDA-K territory. The MP was making it clear that as far as the BGF were concerned Chipwi, Pangwa and Sawlaw remain off-limits to the KIO. The KIA created a post in Chipwi Township in late April of last year.

Fighting has also increased in KIA 4th Brigade controlled areas of Muse, Kutkai, Mantong, Momeik townships. In particular clashes have broken out near the completed Shwe Gas Pipeline. The pipeline has been reported to be already pumping oil from Burma's western Arakan state to China's Yunnan province.

If the conflict continues in this direction it will threaten the mutual trust gained since the agreement was signed, Sumlut Gam. The KIO peace delegation leader added that Naypyidaw officials are briefed by the KIO on every single military clash that takes place.