Headmaster Injured in Clash Between Myanmar Army, TNLA in Northern Shan

By Lawi Weng 14 August 2019

A school headmaster from Mong Si village in Shan State’s Kutkai Township was wounded in a clash between the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) while traveling home from work on Tuesday. 

Lahpai Zau Shan Lum said he was traveling to his home in Kutkai from his school when he became trapped between the two clashing groups.

“I was driving back to Kutkai from my school at 2:30 p.m. The incident happened just before i arrived in Tar Moe Nye,” he said. 

Tar Moe Nye is a sub-township of Kutkai where fighting has escalated since last month between the Myanmar Army and a joint force of the TNLA and its ally, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

The Myanmar Army occasionally attacks the TNLA’s base in the area, but according to local reports, the joint TNLA/MNDAA force launched an attack on an artillery base of the Myanmar Army in Tar Moe Nye last week.  

The TNLA reported yesterday that it fought with the Myanmar Army’s Light Infantry Battalion No. 109, under the control of Infantry Division No. 99, in Tar Moe Nye sub-township’s Maw Ham village. 

Lahpai Zau Shan Lum told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that, “Some soldiers [from the Myanmar Army] stopped me and told me that fighting was going on in the area. They let me hide by the roadside in a water channel. They had many types of guns, and were actively involved in a clash.” He said he arrived at the scene of the fighting at 3:30 p.m., and the clash lasted till around 6:30 p.m.

“When an artillery shell hit the ground near me, I felt the shock of the blast. I couldn’t hear anything, as the explosion was very loud. I didn’t even realize I had been hit by a small piece of shrapnel until someone came to look at me, and showed me that I was wounded. I saw blood on my shirt and realized I was bleeding.”

Lahpai Zau Shan Lum said he sustained wounds to the left side of his rib cage.

After realizing he was wounded, he asked an army officer if they could cease firing briefly. The officer told the headmaster he would speak to a superior officer. “I kept hiding, and the fighting ended at 6:30 p.m. I crossed the road, and then I was able to travel to Kutkai,” he said. 

One army officer asked for his personal information before he left, so Lahpai Zau Shan Lum told him he is a school headmaster in Mong Si village. Then he was allowed to go. 

Lahpai Zau Shan Lum was treated at a hospital in Kutkai and said his condition had improved. 

The TNLA reported that fighting has occurred almost every day in Kutkai Township since early this month, including some villages in Tar Moe Nye.  

The TNLA said that since the most recent round of fighting began, it has clashed with the Tatmadaw 14 times this month in addition to 20 times last month. 

Fighting is ongoing between the TNLA and the Myanmar Army in northern Shan State despite the Myanmar Army’s unilateral ceasefire across five regional commands in Kachin and Shan states.

The TNLA, MNDAA and AA issued a joint statement on Aug. 12 calling on the Myanmar Army to stop fighting in Rakhine and northern Shan states.

Describing themselves as the “Brotherhood Alliance”, the three said in the statement that if the Myanmar Army did not halt its military offensives, they would stage a joint military offensive, adding that the Myanmar Army would be responsible for the consequences.

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