Election 2020

Ethnic Armed Groups in Myanmar's Shan State Clash in Territorial Dispute

By Hset Paing Toe 8 December 2020

Naypyitaw — Fresh clashes erupted between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) on Monday morning in the mountains in Namtu Township, northern Shan State.

The two sides clashed fiercely at the same place near Pankut village in 2018 and the RCSS retreated. In 2019, Myanmar’s military or Tatmadaw attacked the same TNLA outpost.

TNLA information officer Major Tar Aike Kyaw said: “The fighting took place because the RCSS trespassed into TNLA territory. As we have announced a unilateral ceasefire until the end of this month, we had withdrawn our troops from the area. But the RCSS troops returned, resulting in fighting.”

RCSS spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ohm Khur said the opposite, claiming the TNLA attacked RCSS troops, who have long been stationed in the area.

“It was the TNLA that attacked RCSS troops. The clash took place near Namtun bridge. They attacked because they don’t want us there,” he said.

The RCSS is a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government, unlike the TNLA.

Since 2011, the RCSS, which is originally based in southern Shan State, has penetrated central and northern Shan State.

Headquartered in Loi Tai Leng on the Thai border in southern Shan State, the RCSS is now active in eastern, southern and northern Shan State.

Military tensions eased in the region after the two sides declared a ceasefire for the November general election. But skirmishes resurfaced in contested areas, including Namtu, Namhsan, Hsipaw and Kyaukme townships in early December.

Nam Kham Mee of Namtu said skirmishes took place far from their villages and it was currently safe to stay in their homes.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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