11/20/2014, 00.00
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Myanmar army attacks Kachin camp: 23 dead and 13 wounded

The military fired artillery shells hitting a training center of the ethnic formation located not far from Laiza. Kachin spokesman "it was an intentional attack," preceded by "fighting". Peace talks between the central government and ethnic minorities at risk. New round of talks was scheduled for next week.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Myanmar's army attacked a militia ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA) training camp, killing 23 cadets and wounding 13 others. Local sources said that the soldiers hurled grenades and artillery shells into the camp located not far from Laiza, Kachin State, near the border with China. The raid occurred yesterday around noon. La Nan, a spokesman for Kia, said that 20 soldiers died on the spot, while the injured were taken to the city hospital, where three more died later.

"It was an intentional attack" the KIA spokesman says, adding that there had been "fighting" earlier in the morning, "between 8.30 and 9" in an area a few kilometers from the camp. The artillery shells - of 105mm - came from government army "outposts" in "the village of Kandaung", near Hkaya Bum hill. "For us this is the worst loss in a single attack."

In recent weeks peace talks between the central government and leaders of ethnic minorities, including the Kachin, had been taking place in search of a negotiated cease-fire.  Naypyidaw has made no official comments on the matter, which could further complicate the path to peace and dialogue.

Hla Maung Shwe, negotiator in the peace process from the Myanmar Peace Centre, confirms that he has been informed of the attack and that he had reported it to the government. "We are trying to reduce the risk of similar events," he says; in this regard, new talks are scheduled for next week.

Analysts and policy experts explain that there have been clashes and skirmishes between the two sides in the past, but that yesterday's episode was a "premeditated and deliberate attack on a non-threatening target ". The Kachin already doubt the true intentions of the army to reach an agreement; this episode is likely to put an end to any possible political debate and dialogue.

Myanmar is made ​​up of over 135 ethnic groups, who have always struggled to live in harmony, in particular with the central government and the majority Burmese. In the past, the military junta has used brute force to tame the most recalcitrant, including the Kachin in the homonymous region in the north, along the border with China. After 17 years of relative calm, clashes were renewed in June 2011, causing dozens of civilian deaths and at least 200 thousand displaced people. Last August, the bishops of the region launched an appeal for peace, hoping for a "permanent"  solution to the conflict.


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