Myanmar army: 7 rebels dead, outposts seized in Kachin
Military says its forces also suffer some casualties in fighting with powerful ethnic Kachin Independence Army
Seven rebels were killed as soldiers took over four more outposts from a powerful ethnic Kachin rebel group in an area near Myanmar’s border with China, according to the military Monday.
Myanmar’s military has seized eight rebel outposts -- including the Gidon Outpost, a strategic hill near the border town of Laiza where the Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) headquarters are situated -- during a military offensive involving air support and artillery power in December.
The KIA, one of the most powerful rebel groups in Myanmar, has not signed any peace deals with the government since 2011 when fighting with the military broke out again in northern Kachin State.
The Office of the Commander-In-Chief announced Monday that troops occupied four more outposts in Wine Maw Township of Kachin on Sunday.
“Seven dead bodies of rebels were found after the clashes,” said the announcement, adding that the military also suffered some casualties.
The military has accused the KIA of expanding its territories, building more outposts, recruiting new members, collecting taxes from miners and attacking government troops at jade and gold mines in Kachin.
After security forces took over the Gidon Outpost on Dec. 18, a senior military official told Anadolu Agency last month that they were awaiting government approval to push Kachin rebels out of an area along Myanmar’s border with China.
“After the seizure of Gidon, it’s not that difficult for us to take over the KIA headquarters town,” a senior officer at Northern Military Headquarters said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“But we would not do that without approval from government,” he underlined.
At least ten soldiers had been killed in the weeklong offensive on the Gidon Outpost, according to the officer.
The KIA -- along with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army -- has also been fighting against the military in neighboring northeastern Shan State.
The four rebel groups, known as the Northern Alliance, launched a joint-offensive in November during which their combined forces attacked military checkpoints, police stations and a trade zone near the country’s northeastern border with China.
State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has been calling on rebel groups to join an ongoing peace process by signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement -- a peace deal signed between the previous government and eight rebel groups in October 2015 -- as her administration prepares to hold a second meeting with armed ethnic groups later this month.
Since winning the 2015 election, Suu Kyi has made peace and national reconciliation a priority for the administration led by her National League for Democracy party, the first elected civilian government in six decades.
Myanmar, however, still witnesses some of the fiercest fighting break out between some rebel groups and the military in northern and northeastern parts of the country.