Frequent Clashes Among Armed Groups Plague Shan State Residents

By Chit Min Tun 7 August 2018

YANGON —Residents of Shan State’s Namtu Township have lamented the frequent fighting between the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

The SSA-S, the armed wing of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), clashed with the TNLA on Sunday in an area between Pan Kwak Village and Pan Saw Village in Namtu.

“The clash lasted for only around 20 minutes. [The TNLA] carried out an artillery strike on us and we returned fire,” information officer Major Mai Ai Kyaw of the TNLA told The Irrawaddy.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach Lieutenant Colonel Sai Oo, information officer for the RCSS.

“They clash frequently. It is locals who suffer most from those clashes,” said a local of Mong Yeng Village in Namtu who did not want to be named.

Maj. Mai Ai Kyaw confirmed that military tensions in Namtu have been running high between the two sides since last year.

“There was no fierce clash however,” he said.

About 1,000 locals had to flee from their homes after the SSA-S clashed with combined troops of the TNLA and Shan State Army-North, the armed wing of Shan State Progress Party, for four days from July 16 to 20 near Pan Long Village in Namtu.

According to a statement the TNLA released on Monday, the two sides clashed seven times in July this year.

Leaders from both sides met late last year to try to end the frequent fighting but have yet to reach an agreement.

The RCSS is a signatory of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The Myanmar military considers the TNLA an insurgent group because it was formed only after the general elections in 2010.

Clashes broke out between the RCSS and TNLA in November 2015 over a territorial dispute. Since then, the two have clashed sporadically in Kyaukme, Hsipaw, and Namtu townships in northern Shan.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.