By BA KAUNG
THE civil war in northern Burma intensified over the last four days as heavy fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) raged across northern Shan State from Friday morning.
The Burmese military reportedly used 17 battalions and an artillery regiment—totaling 1,000 troops in all—to attack KIA strongholds in areas near the towns of Kutkai, Muse, Hseni, Kunglong and Namtu in regions by the Chinese border.
“Intense fighting is still going on and the government is using heavy artillery. We were forced to evacuate some of our controlled areas,” said Col Zau Raw, the military commander of KIA forces in Shan State. He added that more than a 1,000 of his troops have been engaged in defensive guerrilla warfare against government attacks.
The official claimed that the government army has suffered more than 100 casualties while a KIA officer was killed and a few others wounded during the latest fighting. He also revealed that another local armed ethnic group, the Shan State Army, also fought alongside the KIA against the government's military offensive.
The recent fighting has been the most intense since clashes first broke out near the Chinese-built hydropower plants in Bhamo Township, Kachin State, in June which ended a 17-year ceasefire, according to KIA officials.
Efforts by both sides to renew the ceasefire agreement have failed with the government rejecting KIA demands for an all-inclusive political dialogue between ethnic armed groups and Naypyidaw.
The military objective of the offensive remains unclear, but KIA spokesman La Nan believes that the government intends to weaken Kachin forces to get an upper hand in future rounds of negotiations. Full story at The Irrawaddy