Skirmishes Continue Between Myanmar Army And Ethnic Militias in Shan State

myanmar-rscc-ssa-soldiers-undated-photo-305.jpg Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army soldiers patrol a road in eastern Myanmar's Shan State in an undated photo.

The Myanmar military and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army engaged in a sudden and unexpected skirmish on Friday near the state capital Taunggyi, the Shan state government said.

“The fighting occurred at around seven o’clock in the morning along the border of Taunggyi and Hopone,” said Shan state government spokesman Soe Nyunt Lwin, adding that there were no casualties or injuries.

“It is over now,” he said. “It was not a planned fight.”

The skirmish comes as a coalition of four other armed ethnic groups is engaged in hostilities with Myanmar’s armed forces in the war-torn state.

The Northern Alliance, which includes the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), launched coordinated attacks on 10 government and military targets in the Muse township villages of Mong Ko and Pang Zai, the 105-mile border trade zone between Myanmar and China, and areas of Namhkam and Kutkai townships, on Nov. 20.

The attacks triggered a new round of intensified fighting with government troops, which has displaced thousands of residents.

Another clash between Myanmar’s army and a Northern Alliance member occurred Friday when government forces attacked KIA battalion 252’s post by air and some KIA areas near Battalion 4, said Colonel Nawli from the KIA.

“The government army opened fire last night around midnight, and it struck by air this morning,” he said.

Some civilians were killed during the fighting, but the KIA did not have a figure.

Rumors that government troops had seized the KIA’s main outpost have not been confirmed, according to the conflict resolution team of the Kachin independence Organization (KIO), the KIA’s political wing.

Forced recruitment

Meanwhile, hundreds of civilians in Kyaukme township have fled their homes as TNLA troops have stepped up its forced recruitment in the area, the Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) reported on Friday.

Villagers from Pang Kwan had been abandoning their homes since Dec. 11, a day after 24 men from the village were arrested and detained by TNLA soldiers, the report said, citing Sai Tun Ngan, a Kyaukme lawmaker from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party.

Myanmar’s Peace Commission has offered to hold another round of peace talks with the Northern Alliance on Dec. 18-19 in neighboring China, and has called on the United Wa State Army (UWSA) to participate as a witness.

Colonel Ta Phone Kyaw from the TNLA said both groups are still discussing the meeting date, time, and place.

“We are talking about meeting informally first and discussing how to meet,” he said. “We have requested to meet the four groups together, and we want the UWSA with us as witness.”

The Peace Commission arranged to meet with each group separately in November, but the effort fell apart because the Northern Alliance wanted all four armed militias to be present.

Commission secretary Khin Zaw Oo said at a press conference in the commercial capital Yangon earlier this month that the government body wanted to meet with each group separately because the militias all have different interests.

As of Dec. 1, more than 10 civilians had been killed, 40 had been injured, and more than 3,000 people had sought refuge across the border in China, according to SHAN.  

Reported by Htet Arkar and Kyaw Myo Min for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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