Thursday, July 25, 2024

KIO/KIA and TNLA Argue Over Mining in Namtu Township

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The Kachin Independence Organisation/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) are embroiled in a dispute over mining interests in Namtu Township, northern Shan State, with both sides levelling accusations against each other.

The TNLA alleges that KIO/KIA soldiers obstructed the road between Mongbaw and Auilau by digging a trench and inserting sharp iron rods in the mud around it on June 10.

In response, KIO/KIA spokesperson Col Naw Bu denied that his soldiers erected a roadblock on a civilian road, stating, “They blocked the road leading to the mining area.” He explained that they have been mining significant quantities of ore and storing them at the mine. “Our soldiers are blocking the road to prevent TNLA soldiers from taking our ore from the mine.”

Namtu Township boasts rich deposits of ore, silver, lead, and zinc.

Additionally, the TNLA accused KIO/KIA of blocking the road from Namtu to Mongbaw, Mongwee, and Namkham along the Shwe gas and oil pipeline in the township. This road is crucial for local travel and border trade.

TNLA leaders
TNLA leaders.

“KIA troops have intentionally blocked the road, preventing civilian travel in the area,” a TNLA spokesperson told SHAN, adding that Kachin soldiers were randomly interrogating civilians in Mongbaw.

Disputes between the groups have escalated in recent months in Namtu, Mangton, and Kutkai townships.

Due to the complexity of the situation, in late May, the TNLA sought assistance from the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), of which both armed groups are members, to resolve their disputes. TNLA informed FPNCC that KIO/KIA were disrupting its administration at Baw Ho Kyan mines located between Mongbaw and Ouilau in Namtu Township.

Naw Bu stated that they have not received any directive from FPNCC regarding TNLA’s complaint.

In April, a TNLA administration team instructed KIA soldiers at its liaison office in Kutkai to vacate the town, but the dispute involving low-ranking soldiers was resolved once the armed groups’ central committees intervened.

TNLA troops reportedly attempted to seize a position from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in Kutkai on April 27. Both groups, along with the Arakan Army are part of Three Brotherhood Alliance, which seized many towns, including Kutkai, and hundreds of Burma Army bases and camps after launching a major offensive in Northern Shan State in October. All of them are also in the FPNCC.

MNDAA soldiers allegedly confiscated rifles from over five TNLA soldiers during the dispute, prompting both sides to deploy more troops to the general area. Local sources reported gunfire exchanges between the groups between Kutkai and Tamoenye towns on April 19.

MNDAA also reportedly clashed with KIA at Namphakka in Kutkai Township after the former attacked Kachin soldiers at its checkpoint.

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