The Irrawaddy

Hundreds of Shan Villagers Flee Mong Kung as Tatmadaw Assaults RCSS Positions

MON STATE — More than 450 ethnic Shan have been displaced from five villages in Mong Kung Township, Shan State, by three days of fighting between the Myanmar Army and RCSS/SSA-South troops, according to local sources.

Sai Sam Mong, a lawmaker from Shan’s Kyethi Township, told The Irrawaddy that the villagers fled Tuesday and Wednesday amid near constant fighting near their villages.

“They fled early in the morning. In total there were 451 villagers. They fled from five villages today [Wednesday] and yesterday,” Sai Sam Mong said.

All of the displaced people were sheltering at a Shan Buddhist monastery, where monks had offered them food. The IDPs will need more supplies, as they do not know when they will be able to return to their villages.

Authorities from Mong Kung planned to visit the IDPs today and will distribute some food, according to Sai Sam Mong.

The IDPs were able to hear artillery fire on Wednesday morning, according to Sai Sam Mong, who visited to IDPs at the monastery on the same day.

The fighting took place in forested areas not far from the IDPs’ villages, and some shells had landed in their rice fields, forcing them to flee.

On Tuesday, the fighting lasted almost the whole day, according to local IDPs. They said the latest round of fighting erupted the previous day when the Myanmar Army attacked an RCSS base in the area.

“We heard the fighting from 7 a.m. until nightfall [on Tuesday]. Some IDPs fled without any belongings because they were so afraid of the artillery,” Sai Sam Mong said.

According to local IDPs, prior to the latest attack, the Myanmar Army had not been active in the area since the RCSS signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015.

The Myanmar Army’s attack followed a warning to RCSS troops to return to their old bases from new areas in southern Shan that the Tatmadaw claims are off limits to the ethnic armed organization under the terms of the NCA.

More Myanmar Army troops have been deployed in RCSS areas recently, and the Tatmadaw has engaged in large troop movements, according to the RCSS.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sai Oo, an RCSS spokesperson, said the current attacks by the Myanmar Army were related to their warning last week.