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KIO calls on church groups to pray as tensions with Burma army escalate

Kachin Baptist Church in the KIO capital Laiza, Kachin state

February 19, 2014

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) last week called on church goers in its territory to pray as tensions between the group and Burma's military continue to escalate after the recent loss by the KIO of two posts near its Laiza headquarters.

Those attending both Baptist and Catholic churches in Laiza and Mai Ja Yang, the KIO's other major town, have been asked to hold special prayer services in advance of an expected attack by the Burma army, also known as the Tatmadaw, religious leaders tell the Kachin News Group.

The Laiza Roman Catholic church held a 24-hour prayer service on Sunday February 16th shortly after the head priest father N’Bwi Naw met with Nuk Gan from the KIO's Cultural Department, according to a church colleague Lasang Tu San. It is expected that this will continue every Sunday until the situation improves.

At the Laiza Kachin Baptist Church, 24-hour prayer services and fasting have been held every Saturday since the war between the government and the KIO started in June 2011, according to Pastor Rev. Lahpai Shingrip.

Rev. Sumlut Gun Seng a Baptist pastor based in Laiza told the Kachin News Group, “the fighting is starting once again and it could involve heavy weapons. We have to pray to God who can enable everything,” he said.

Most of the Kachin populations are Christian and many Kachin have shown their support for the KIO by taking part in public prayer sessions at Kachin churches across Kachin state since a 17 year ceasefire between the KIO and the government ended in June 2011.

Tensions between the military and the KIO have increased significantly since government troops attacked and captured two KIA frontline posts situated less than 10 miles from its Laiza headquarters.

Government troops took Ja Ing Yang on February 11th and Hka U on February 12th shortly after the government attack was launched.

After the posts were seized the military sent a large numbers of reinforcements from Myitkyina and Bhamo (or Manmaw) and deployed them at Burmese military bases in Nam San Yang and Dawhpumyang, less than 10 miles from the Laiza, according to KIA officers on the frontline.

Burma signals to China that it will attack Laiza

Burmese government officials have reportedly signaled to their Chinese counterparts their intention to take Laiza which sits right on the Chinese border, according to a senior KIO official who wished to remain anonymous.

KIO officials tell KNG that the government forces will not likely attack Laiza or the KIO's other town Mai Ja Yang without receiving some sort of okay from China. Any attack on Laiza or Mai Ja Yang would likely create a huge influx of refugees into China.

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