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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Burma army uses aid convoy to captures KIO controlled IDP camp


Burmese government soldiers.
 Burma army troops took control of an internally displaced people's camp in southern Kachin state from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) on Saturday November 16th by taking advantage of an aid convoy which traveled to the area, according to KIO officials.

The camp based in Bhamo (or Manmaw) district's Nam Lim Pa was captured by 300 troops under Bhamo based Military Operation Command 21 (MOC-21), who entered the camp just minutes after a Catholic funded aid convoy reached the camp, according to Lahpai La Doi, an official with Kachin Independence Army's Battalion 12. The convoy which consisted of 10 vehicles was operated by the Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS), the social development agency of the Catholic Church in Burma.
KIA forces did not resist the army's effort to seize the camp because doing so would have resulted in many civilians getting caught up in the cross fire, Lahpai La Doi said.

When the soldiers arrived at Nam Lim Pa, IDP and local villagers fled to a nearby forest leaving their belongings behind, Lahpai La Doi said. Few if any of the IDP have returned to the camp. Some are believed to be headed for another KIO controlled camp at Nbapa or a government controlled camp at Man Win near the China border but as of Monday none of the displaced had reached the other camps according to aid workers.

The incident on Saturday is not the first the army has used aid convoys to capture more territory. Earlier this year the Myanmar Times citing a leaked UN memo reported that the military had taken advantage of UN aid convoys in Kachin state's jade rich Hpakant to send in troops and capture territory from the KIO. The memo penned by a senior UN official directing the UN’s relief program in Kachin State described “trucks with government soldiers taking advantage of the passage of the aid convoy to take new positions”.

Heavy fighting begins near camp after army takeover
Heavy fighting broke out around Nam Lim Pa camp shortly after government forces took control of the camp, said Major Labang Jawn Awng, a commander with KIA battalion 12 during a phone interview with the Kachin News Group.

The fighting began at Nam Lim Pa and Mahkaw Yang on Sunday morning and lasted until midnight, commander Jawn Awng told the Kachin News Group. The fighting then continued on Monday morning at nearby Kawng Ja Yang village.

“There are now there no more civilians in our battalion 12 area just us (KIA forces) and Burmese troops. More clashes will likely break out at any moment,” he said.

More than 1,000 government troops from 20 battalions under MOC-21 (Bhamo) under Myitkyina-based Northern Regional Military Command and MOC-16 (Theinni or Hsenwi) under Lashio-based Northeast Regional Military Command are currently operating against KIA battalion 12, according to Commander Jawn Awng.

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