At Least 10 People Killed in Shan State Conflict

By Lawi Weng & Saw yan Naing 22 November 2016

MUSE, Shan State — At least ten people, both police and civilians, have been killed and 29 more injured in the fighting across northern Shan State that began on Sunday, state media announced.

More than 2,700 Muse Township residents have been displaced from their homes and have taken shelter in four camps in Muse town, a township officer reported.

Since Sunday, a combined force of ethnic armed groups has carried out an offensive against the Burma Army in several Shan State border towns, including Muse, Mong Ko, and Pang Sai. The armed groups include the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA). The ethnic armed groups issued a statement requesting that civilians avoid traveling in the conflict areas in northern Shan State as the fighting escalates.

Multiple new attacks have occurred in the past 24 hours.

On Tuesday, a civilian truck driver was killed on the road between Lashio and Muse when he was caught in a clash between the ethnic armed groups and the Burma Army. The driver was shot in the forehead while sitting in the driver’s seat of his 12-wheel container truck. In a press release from the State Counselor’s Office, the victim was identified as being 42 years old, but his name and address were withheld.

When the incident occurred, Burma Army soldiers were attempting to reopen a blocked roadway and free a convoy of 18 vehicles when they reportedly came under attack. Some abandoned vehicles were destroyed in the fighting that followed, and others had their windows broken. The attack was intended to threaten civilians who use the roadway, the government press release said.

Separately, on Monday night, ethnic armed groups launched an attack against a police station in Muse town, causing serious injuries to one civilian, according to the township authority.

“They came to attack a police station in the town at 7:30 at night,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Tun, the Muse Township officer. “They also attacked nearby areas where there are other small police posts.”

One civilian was shot and has been treated at a hospital in Muse. There were no police casualties from the attack, Kyaw Kyaw Tun said.

After the latest attack, numerous shops, restaurants, stores, banks, schools, and hotels in Muse closed on Tuesday, and rumors spread that another attack could hit the town. Local banks have removed some ATM machines from the area, citing security concerns.

Many civilians have told reporters they are preparing to seek safety across the Chinese border. The news site China Daily reported that more than 3,000 Burmese nationals have already done so, fleeing into China’s Yunnan province. Chinese authorities reportedly provided shelter and medical treatment to those who were injured.

Chinese authorities are keeping the official border gates near Muse open, but they have closed more than 20 unofficial crossing points; they have deployed additional security forces to protect the border in recent days.

Ma Noe, a Muse resident, told The Irrawaddy that she feared another attack on the town.

“We have not seen such a bad situation in the past 24 years in our Muse,” she said. “This is the first time, and it is really bad.”

She added that a lot of border trade and businesses in the town would suffer.

On Sunday, the first attack struck Muse Town at an economic zone called “mile 105,” where four police officers and four civilians were killed. Authorities in Namkham and Muse townships have tightened their security measures and are now inspecting all people who enter the towns.

Two more clashes broke out on Monday between the Burma Army and KIA troops in Nang Pha Lon village and Nang Pha Khar village, both in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township.