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Published on Saturday, 19 January 2013 09:57
The government is denying reports that it troops launch heavy artillery attacks on Liaza town earlier this week, telling 7 Days News Journal that only Kachin Independence Army bases in and around Lajaryan region were targeted.
“Government troops did not intend to step up an offensive to eradicate the KIA,” Ye Htut, deputy information minister said in an interview. “It was just a military response to the KIA.”
The government spokesman also denied reports state military had used a disproportionate level of firepower. “The weapons the government’s army used were appropriate for ensuring secure and smooth transport, law and order, and self-defence. President Thein Sein also instructed the army not to gear up heavy attacks on the KIA and the government troops followed his instructions,” he said.
Ye Htut also characterised the fighting as a response to attacks on supply routes and motorways. “Skirmishes between government troops and the KIA have continued in Lajaryan region in recent months as KIA rebels have launched attacks, from their strongholds, on government troop columns carrying provisions to Lajaryan. For that reason, the government army is launching operations to ensure the security of its troops and that travel on the Myitkyina-Bhamo road returns to normal,” he said.
As the conflict escalates accounts of who is responsible continue to diverge. Kachin State resident Ho Wa Du Wa Zaw Gan, the son of Du Wa Khun Phon (a prominent Kachin resident in the battle for independence from British rule) told a exile news agency that government troops were provoking the conflict.
State media continue to report that government troops are protecting supply routes, not launching attacks on the KIA.
Ho Wa Du Wa Zaw Gan said the government is launching frequent airstrikes on KIA positions using fighter jets and helicopters, in an attempt to gain control of the strategically important mountains around Liaza valley.