The Irrawaddy

Fighting Between Two Allied Ethnic Armies Injures Two in Northern Shan

SSPP/ Shan State Army-North soldiers are seen in Namkham Township, Shan State in 2013. 

YANGON – Two villagers in Mansa village near Namtu Township in northern Shan State sustained shrapnel wounds when clashes erupted between the Shan State Progressive Party and the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army on Friday morning.

The two armed groups are both based along the China-Myanmar border and both are members of the northeast-based Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC). While they have so far avoided heavy fighting, occasional skirmishes flared between the two groups in northern Shan in 2016 and 2017.

More than 100 villagers from Mansa fled to Mong Ying village, about 1 mile away, and were taken to a shelter at the village monastery, according to U Tun Hline, the village administrator of Mong Ying.

“The fighting broke out at about 9 am on May 4 in Mansa village in Mansa Lone village tract, and ended at around 12:30 p.m.,” U Tun Hline told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

The two villagers were injured when an artillery round struck the village, he said, adding that “the shell hit the compound of U Aik Sai, who suffered abdominal wounds. He was sent to Lashio Hospital. Daw Aye San, a woman who was passing by, was hit in the shoulder and sent to Namtu Hospital.”

“I think the artillery shelling is from the Palaung [TNLA], because the SSPP [troops] live inside the village,” he said.

However, TNLA spokesman Major Mai Aik Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that he could not confirm the reports of fighting.

“We haven’t received any reports from our ground forces yet, but I have heard the stories,” Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw said, referring to Facebook posts on the clash.

SSPP spokesmen were unavailable for comment regarding Friday’s incident. However, a Shan-language report regarding the clash was posted to the SSPP’s Facebook page on Friday afternoon. The post states that “about 300 troops from TNLA Battalion 1 attacked the SSPP camp at Namhsaun [Mansa] from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm. Casualties on both sides are unknown. After the attack, the TNLA retreated but a nearby Myanmar Army unit continued to attack the SSPP.”

The FPNCC has a policy of engaging in collective peace negotiations with the government. Early this week, however, the SSPP held bilateral peace talks with a delegation representing the government’s Peace Commission led by former military leaders at the party’s headquarters in Wan Hai, Kehsi Township.

Despite the talks, it was reported on Friday that the SSPP also engaged in clashes with the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, at Loi Yin outpost in Kyauk Mae Township, northern Shan State.

Nyein Nyein contributed to this report.