Kachin rebels have lost the last major stronghold protecting their headquarters in Laiza, sparking fears that the town — under rebel control for the past 50 years — may soon fall to government troops and force refugees into China.
The outpost of Hka Ya Bum, the most strategic peak in a mountain range five miles west of Laiza, fell on Saturday after days of heavy bombardment by the Burmese forced rebel soldiers with the Kachin Independence Army to withdraw to positions farther south.
“The Myanmar army has gained control of the highest peak and now controls much of the mountain range," said Colonel Zau Tawng from the KIA's central command office in Laiza.
“There are another two ranges between Hka Ya Bum and Laiza, but… this very strategic mountain peak, the highest mountain peak in the range, means that [the army] doesn't need to move ground troops in. If it continues to launch artillery fire, we may have to retreat.”