Fighting Reported Between Myanmar Military, TNLA

By Lawi Weng 13 September 2019

Fighting between the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) intensified in northern Shan State on Friday, near the town of Namhsan, according to locals.

The fighting broke out despite a recently announce one-month ceasefire between the groups.

The fighting broke out around 7 a.m. when the Tatmadaw attacked a TNLA base at mountain pagoda locals called Taung Yoe Pagoda, according to TNLA spokesperson Major Tar Aike Kyaw. It halted a bit after 9 a.m. but resumed at 1 p.m. and was ongoing for the rest of the day, he said.

“Our troops are based on that mountain. Fighting broke out because they came and attacked our troops,” Major Tar Aike Kyaw, TNLA spokesperson, said.

Locals told The Irrawaddy that the Tatmadaw brought in two army helicopters to reinforce ground attacks at around 2:30 p.m., which were firing long-range artillery.

Tatmadaw spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun confirmed to The Irrawaddy intermittent fighting had occurred in the area Friday, and that the Tatmadaw employed helicopters.

“The fighting lasted long, for hours, but it was not so intense,” he said.

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said there were Tatmadaw casualties but did not offer a number. Major Tar Aike Kyaw said the TNLA reported no casualties among his men.

Friday marked a full moon, the day ethnic Ta’ang Buddhists go to the monastery to meditate, but fighting kept many of them at home. The township had a religious festival planned at its monastery, but the abbot told everyone to return to their homes and shelter until the fighting abated.

The Tatmadaw has a base for ground troops in Namhsan Township, where locals said it fired from, targeting the TNLA site from a distance.

Township residents expressed fear at the sound of the artillery.

“Their artillery base is near our house. It was very loud—we could hear every shot. It was terrifying,” said Lway Plang Gar Houre, a Namhsan resident and Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO) member. “We didn’t know where the TNLA was, but we could hear shots.”

Some fled around 9 a.m. for monasteries or relatives’ homes while others remained, she said.

Some residents reported hearing shots from locations approximately 4 miles away.

“They fired every ten minutes from the town at our troops based on the mountain to help their ground forces,” Maj. Tar Aike Kyaw told The Irrawaddy.

According to the TWO, the Tatmadaw sent four army trucks of additional troops to the town Friday.