A Myanmar junta-affiliated militia group has killed five members of the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA), a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
Five PNLA members including a deputy platoon commander and a deputy section commander were seized and killed by the Pa-O National Army (PNA), another Pa-O ethnic armed organization (EAO), in a village in Shan State’s Pinlaung Township on September 14, said the PNLA.
“It was the result of a misunderstanding. Both sides are responsible,” said PNLA patron Colonel Khun Okkar
“Why has our side sent them [the five] there? And why has the PNA killed them? The PNA should have known that the five men belonged to us once they interrogated them. They have no reason to kill allies. So we need to understand from whom the order [to kill them] came and we need to find ways to avoid similar incidents,” added Col. Khun Okkar.
The PNLA condemned the killings, but said it would solve the problem peacefully. Col. Khun Okkar called for a meeting between mid-level leaders of the two EAOs to deal with the issue. The two groups have a joint committee to handle relations.
The Irrawaddy was unable to obtain a comment from the PNA and its political wing, the Pa-O National Organization (PNO).
The PNLA has joined peace talks with junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
In 1991, the PNO led by Aung Kham Hti signed a ceasefire with the previous military regime, transforming itself into a political party with a militia that manages security in the Pa-O self-administered zone, which consists of Hopong, Hsi Hseng and Pinlaung townships in southern Shan State, as granted to the Pa-O under the army-drafted 2008 Constitution.
Aung Kham Hti is close to former military dictator Than Shwe, reportedly visiting him once a year.
Local Pa-O organizations have accused the PNO of fighting alongside the military regime since the coup and organizing military training for locals to fight for the junta.
Khun Thiha Htoo Zaw, a spokesperson for the Pa-O National Defense Force which was formed after the coup to fight the military regime, said the PNO must take responsibility for the killings.
“PNO has committed many killings like this before and they have now made a big mistake. I hope the two sides will negotiate. But if the PNO fails to take responsibility, we will have to take action on our own against them,” he said.