Locals in Northern Shan State Warned to Take Precautions As Fighting Escalates

By Saw Yan Naing 21 November 2016

A joint force of four ethnic armed groups have warned local residents in conflict-torn northern Shan State to limit movement in the region as battles escalate against the Burma Army.

“Our ethnic peoples are requested to halt travels in northern Shan State in order to avoid battles during this period of military activity,” read the statement released by the armed organizations. “We appeal to local people to take precautions, and to support this inevitable joint military exercise for the protection of all ethnic people.”

The four groups include the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA), none of whom are signatories to the country’s controversial 2015 nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).

They released the statement on Monday after launching three attacks on Burma Army and police posts in northern Shan State’s Muse Township early Sunday morning, leaving five policemen injured. The groups said they launched the joint military operation because they are under pressure from government forces.

“Despite the fact that our alliance of the Northern Brotherhoods truly wants a genuine peace and wishes to solve political problems through political means, we have inevitably launched such a joint military operation after constant military pressure from the Burma Army,” read the joint statement.

The Burma Army has actively engaged in military offensives using heavy artillery and airstrikes against the four groups in Kachin and Shan states, where they are based.

In their statement, they said that the Tatmadaw had recently launched offensives in territories belonging to the Kachin, Kokang, Ta’ang, Arakanese and Shan ethnic groups, which have intensified with the arrest, torture, and killing of local civilians.

The Burma Army offensives—carried out while peace talks are ongoing—could lead to a breakdown of internal peace and stability, warned the four ethnic armed groups.

Sunday’s attacks against Burma Army posts occurred in Muse Township’s 105th Mile, as well as in the townships of Mong Ko, Pang Sai, Namkham and Kutkai, all in northern Shan State.