Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burma military broke out last weekend near Sawlaw and Chipwe in northern Kachin state. The clashes started after government troops from Infantry Battalion 29 attacked the KIA Battalion 10 on Saturday. Chipwe, located north east of the Kachin state capital Myitkyina, is home to a small 2,000 MW dam built to supply electricity for the construction of the now officially suspended Myitsone dam.
According to locals, skirmishes between KIA units and the army also took place near Pangwa near the China/Burma border. Both Chipwe and Pangwa were former strongholds of the now officially defunct NDAK. For many years Pangwa was important for tax collection on the trade route between the Chinese city of Tengchong and Myitkyina, earning millions in annual revenues for the NDAK's chief Zahkung Ting Ying (also Za Khun Ting Ring).
Two Border Guard Force (BGF) units made of up of troops who were formerly part of the New Democratic Army Kachin (NDAK) were also seen fighting on the government side. It is unclear if there were any casualties from either side.
The latest fighting came days after senior Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) officials met with the Burmese government's top negotiator Aung Min in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. The KIO representatives were part of a delegation from the Union National Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of Burma's armed ethnic groups.
Although the talks that were sponsored by Japan's largest charity the Nippon Foundation were positive according to participants they failed to find a solution to the ongoing conflict in Kachin state.