2 Dead, Several Injured During Battle in Kokang Village

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 19 February 2015

RANGOON — Clashes between government and rebel troops in Lone Htan village, in Burma’s Kokang Special Region, left at least two dead and several others injured on Tuesday night, as hospitals in nearby Kunlong, Hopang and Lashio continue to field civilians that have been displaced or injured by the ongoing conflict.

Burma Army Captain Ye Sithu Aung and a young migrant laborer whose name is still unknown died of gunshot wounds in Kunlong and Hopang general hospitals, according to medical officials. Several others remain in treatment for their injuries.

Heads of hospitals in both Hopang and Kunlong confirmed on Thursday that they received patients from Lone Htan, who had traveled together to escape the village amid heavy gunfire. Lone Htan is located near Chin Shwe Haw, along the Burma-China border.

Dr. Shwe Win, head of Hopang General Hospital, said seven civilians were admitted on Tuesday night, also arriving from Lone Htan. An ethnic Lahu migrant worker, about 26 years old, died of gun-related injuries, one remains in hospital and five were transferred to Lashio for additional care.

“We’ve received seven patients in 17 February night,” said Dr. Shwe Win. “These people are believed to be refugees came from Laukkai, but we don’t know who they are exactly.”

In Kunlong, Dr. Thein Myo told The Irrawaddy that four injured Burma Army soldiers arrived at his facility on Tuesday night. One bled out and the remaining three are being treated, while two more were admitted to the hospital on Thursday morning. The soldiers belonged to Light Infantry Division 217, he said.

“The captain is only 24 years old… a lot of bullets were found on his body. I heard this battle was really serious,” Dr. Thein Myo said.

Clashes between the Burma Army and Kokang troops known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) erupted on Feb. 9, devastating the region’s administrative capital and former rebel stronghold Laukkai.

The ensuing conflict has left at least 47 government troops and 18 rebel soldiers dead, according to state figures, while thousands of civilians have been displaced. The number of civilian deaths is still unknown.

The displaced include both local civilians, relatives of local officials and migrant laborers from other parts of Burma, many of whom came to the area seeking work on sugar cane farms and in casinos along the border with China.

Clashes in Lone Htan occurred on the same day that a convoy of Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) aid workers came under fire by rebel troops while attempting to transport civilians to safety. The fleet had left Laukkai—which is now believed to be mostly abandoned—for Chin Shwe Haw on Tuesday morning before being struck by gunfire that injured two people.

Sources in Lashio said many people had fled across Laukkai’s border into China, traveled south to Chin Shwe Haw and crossed back into Burma, with the aim of traveling further inland to Kunlong and then on to Lashio. Following Tuesday’s attack, however, most rescue missions have come to a halt due to danger on the road.