The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) shot down a Myanmar military helicopter as it was conducting air strikes in Momauk, Kachin State at around 10 a.m. on Monday, KIA information officer Colonel Naw Bu confirmed to The Irrawaddy.
“It happened at around 10:20 a.m. today. The attack on the gunship scared away two fighter jets accompanying the helicopter,” he said.
A local resident confirmed the crash. “The aircraft crashed after being hit in its tail rotor. I saw smoke spewing from it. It landed near Konglaw Village. We have heard loud gunfire since morning along with continuous artillery fire. The situation is not good,” said the witness.
Military tensions have been running high between Myanmar’s military junta and the ethnic Kachin armed group in Momauk since April 11, with the former using aircraft to bomb KIA outposts.
At around 2 a.m. on April 29 the KIA launched an artillery attack on Bhamo Airport, which military choppers use to take off and land.
The fighting in Momauk surrounds Alaw Bum base on a hill on the Chinese border. The hill, located on the route to the KIA’s headquarters, is strategically important for gaining the military upper hand over areas between Bhamo and Myitkyina.
Myanmar’s military has been attempting to retake the hill since the KIA seized it from the former on March 25.
More than 5,000 people from 10 villages have been displaced by the fighting in Momauk.