Shelling kills 7 displaced people in Myanmar, including a minor

They were traveling to their homes to collect essential items when the ‘targeted attack’ occurred, an ethnic army claimed.
By RFA Burmese
2024.02.20
Shelling kills 7 displaced people in Myanmar, including a minor Internally displaced people from Shan state’s Hsihseng township on Feb. 9, 2024.
Pa-O National Liberation Organization

Junta shelling killed seven civilians in a heavily disputed territory of Myanmar, an ethnic army claimed in a Tuesday statement. 

Artillery hit the seven victims on Monday, the Pa-O National Liberation Organization claimed, adding that the attack was targeted. They were all internally displaced people from Hsihseng city in Shan state.

Junta troops attacked the group’s car with heavy weapons near southern Shan state’s War Taw village as they were returning home briefly for supplies, the statement continued. 

Hsihseng, a township in southern Shan state, has been the site of ongoing conflict since late January when clashes broke out between the Pa-O army and the junta. 

But the area has remained contested in terms of control. In May 2023, a shootout occurred as an ASEAN humanitarian convoy traveled to Hsihseng to deliver aid and discuss assistance with the Pa-O National Liberation Organization for internally displaced people. It remains unclear who instigated the shooting.

The victims of Monday’s attack included one 17-year-old minor, locals said. The six others were aged 18 to 45.

An official of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization who asked not to be named said the shells were fired by junta troops based in Hsaik Hkawng village in Hsihseng township.

"At first, Light Infantry Battalion 423 in northern Hsihseng launched drone attacks there. Later, the junta troops based in Hsaik Hkawng village fired artillery shells," he said.

A resident who did not want to be named for security reasons told Radio Free Asia that the identities of the victims could not be confirmed at this time.

"They died on the spot. There are five men and two women,” he said. “We don't know who they are.”

Despite the Pa-O National Liberation Army signing a nationwide ceasefire in 2015 and attending peace talks following the 2021 coup, the group committed in late January to fighting the regime. 

Fighting is still ongoing in Hsihseng township, locals said, adding that the road where the attack occurred has been closed off. 

RFA contacted Shan state’s junta spokesperson Khun Thein Maung for more details, but he did not return calls by the time of publication. 

According to data compiled by RFA, junta airstrikes and artillery have killed 1,429 civilians and injured 2,641 more since the coup began on Feb. 1, 2021.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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