Five Killed as Wa Army and RCSS Clash Over Territory in Myanmar
By The Irrawaddy 7 April 2022
The United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) reportedly clashed on Tuesday in Mong Hta in southern Shan State.
According to sources, UWSA region 171 forces and RCSS Battalion 201 troops clashed in Mong Hta.
Both sides told The Irrawaddy the other group was responsible.
Liaison officer San Pi of the southern UWSA said the skirmish happened after 20 RCSS troops intruded into Wa territory.
“They trespassed into our territory. We politely told them to withdraw. But they fired on one of our reconnaissance scouts. There were more than 20 of them. We had an exchange of fire and five of them were killed. We seized weapons, including M16s, M4s and machine guns,” San Pi told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.
The fighting only lasted minutes, after which RCSS troops retreated, he said.
“They intruded into our territory in February. We tolerated it that time. Tuesday’s incident was their second intrusion. Clashes will happen if they return,” said San Pi.
RCSS secretary Major Kham San said the clash happened because UWSA troops attacked an RCSS hilltop outpost.
“Troops from UWSA’s 171 region attacked our outpost. The clash lasted 10 to 15 minutes. They then withdrew. Tensions remain high,” he told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.
The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the reports.
In late January, the UWSA-run Wa State TV announced that no incursions would be tolerated.
The UWSA was then deploying troops in Khaing Lone in southern Shan State, which is part of its region 171. The deployment followed widespread rumors on social media that the UWSA was preparing for a possible attack by its rival, the RCSS, whose headquarters in Loi Tai Leng is adjacent to Khaing Lone.
The RCSS and the UWSA engaged in fierce fighting to the east of the Salween River in southern Shan State between 2002 and 2005. Since then, the two groups have observed an unofficial ceasefire.
The RCSS, which signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government in 2015, is based in southern Shan State, and its rival ethnic Shan armed group, the Shan State Progress Party, is based in the north.
The RCSS, however, also operates in northern Shan State and has been fighting the SSPP for years over territory. It has been trying to increase its presence in northern Shan State since the military coup last year.
The UWSA reportedly dispatched hundreds of its troops to assist the SSPP and another ally, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, in fighting with the RCSS. The RCSS has reportedly lost a number of its strongholds in northern Shan State, where Chinese investment is planned.
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