Gunmen Attack Govt Militia on China-Myanmar Border

By Lawi Weng 24 April 2020

The headquarters of a local government-backed militia based in Muse, Shan State was attacked by unknown gunmen Thursday night, according to local sources in the town on the China-Myanmar border.

The Pan Say militia said the attack on their headquarters occurred after 7 p.m. when the gunmen opened fire with artillery and guns before driving away in cars and on motorbikes.

“Some artillery shells fell inside the headquarters area and some fell near the headquarters fence. Some shells even fell down on the Chinese side [of the border],” said a member of the Pan Say militia who asked to remain anonymous. There were reportedly no causalities from the attack.

One militia member said that some artillery shells fell on a kindergarten school just over the Chinese border in the town of Ruili, reportedly damaging three cars at the school.

Chinese Central TV reported Friday that three artillery shells and many bullets fell inside Ruili.

One militia member said they did not know why the gunmen came to attack the headquarters but added that the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), an ethnic armed group active in the area, came to the headquarters to collect taxes recently.

U Al Soe Htan Htoo, a representative at the Muse Information Department, said authorities tried to chase the gunmen but it was difficult to find them in the night.

The TNLA denied responsibility for the attack.

“We even tried to find out who attacked them. For us, we have already announced a unilateral ceasefire for a month, so we were not involved in the attack,” said TNLA Major Tar Aike Kyaw.

The major added that in this time of crisis, many people already have problems due to worries about infection from the coronavirus. “For us, we did not attack to create more problems for the people,” he said.

Muse is home to many militia and armed groups in addition to the Pan Say militia. The militia groups are backed by the Myanmar army and many run illegal border trade businesses in the town, including open gambling operations.

Rebel ethnic armed groups, including the TNLA, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, are also based outside the town and fighting has sometimes broken out between the Myanmar army and the ethnic armed groups.

Two weeks ago, a bomb went off at the Muse office of state-run telecom firm Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

While the Myanmar army is primarily in control of the town, rebel groups also exert influence and often extort taxes from businessmen despite the military’s presence.

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