Two separate attacks by Myanmar’s army on Wednesday left one villager dead and nine others injured in the country's volatile northern Shan state, according to local rights groups and an official from an armed ethnic group.
An army attack that killed one villager and injured five others occurred at the Loi Khan Lone Company’s gold mine in Tachilate Township in the eastern part of Shan state, the Shan Farmer Network and Shan Human Rights Foundation said in a statement.
The Shan state government halted the company’s operations last year when residents complained that it had destroyed their croplands.
“An official from the mining company had invited local residents to a discussion on Loi Khan Lone’s business, but they got into an argument,” said Sai Khun Mine, spokesman of the Shan Farmer Network and Shan Human Rights Foundation.
The company official responded by calling in the government army’s infantry unit 330, he said.
“About 20 soldiers came and shot at them [the residents],” he said. “One was hit and taken to a hospital, but he died there yesterday.”
The statement by the two rights groups calls for action against the army’s attack and the ongoing gold mine business.
Four other villagers in Shan state were injured Wednesday during hostilities between army troops and soldiers from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), said Lway Poe Ngeal, general secretary of the Ta’ang Women’s Organization, an activist group working in the region.
They were taken to the hospital in Mantone township, where one is in critical condition, she said.
“When they began fighting, the villagers ran away and were injured by landmines,” she said.
Army soldiers have attacked TNLA troops since Oct. 10 in Mongmit, Namhsan, Kyuakme and Kutkai townships, said Major Ta Aik Kyaw of the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)/TNLA.
The PSLF is the political wing of the TNLA, an ethnic minority army representing the Ta’ang people, who are also known as Palaung.
“The government army has deployed its troops everywhere,” he said. “There will be more fighting if they continue attacking us.”
More than 1,000 residents from six villages in Mongshu township have fled their homes because of clashes between the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and government soldiers, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported, citing local aid workers.
Some of them have sought refuge in a local monastery, while others are hiding in the jungles or are staying with relatives or at their rice paddy farms, the report said.
Fighting broke out on Oct. 6 near Wan Hai village when the SSA-N refused to obey a Myanmar army order to withdraw its troops from the area, it said. The army previously attacked the SSA-N’s base in the village in August.
The latest hostilities in Shan state come as representatives from eight of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups prepare to sign a national cease-fire agreement with the government on Thursday in the capital Naypyidaw.
President Thein Sein’s administration has pushed for the deal to end six decades of civil war in the country before general elections on Nov. 8.
Reported by Bone Myat, Kan Tha and Thiha Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.