Militiamen Killed, Injured as Myanmar Rebels Continue Shan State Attacks

By Kyaw Kha 26 August 2019

THEINNI, SHAN STATE—Sporadic clashes are ongoing between the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and joint forces of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Arakan Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army in northern Shan State, with casualties and injuries reported in clashes in Theinni and Kutkai townships.

Rebel fighters attacked Yay Pu gate, a checkpoint for inspecting smuggled goods between Theinni and Lashio townships, with a rocket-propelled grenade around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning from a nearby hill, killing a militiaman and injuring another, according to Tatmadaw soldiers and police providing security at the gate.

“One was hit in the head and another was slightly injured in his right foot,” a military officer at the gate told The Irrawaddy on Saturday.

Villagers in Lwel Pel leave their homes on the morning of August 24, 2019, for relief camps in urban Kutkai. / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

The Irrawaddy was asked not to publish details for security reasons.

On Aug. 16, one day after the rebel groups launched coordinated attacks in Shan State’s Naung Cho Township and on a military academy in Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin, they issued a warning telling local peoples militias in the conflict zone—some of whom are allied with the Tatmadaw—not to take part in the fighting and not to stand with the Tatmadaw.

In their warning, the rebels said they would respond with arms to anyone fighting alongside the Tatmadaw.

Rebel fighters retreated after Tatmadaw soldiers providing security for the gate returned fire, said a military officer at the gate. Tatmadaw soldiers then chased after the rebels as military engineering troops came to defuse two unexploded RPGs, the officer said.

“We can accept if they attack the military, but they have attacked a public road and gate, which is unacceptable. What if passengers were present and had been hit?” he said.

Holes made by shrapnel from a nearby blast are seen in the home of a villager in Lwel Pel Village. / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

Three members of a family were injured when an artillery shell fell near their house in the village of Lwel Pel in Kutkai Township on Friday evening, family members told The Irrawaddy.

A student, a ten-year-old girl; her father; and her grandmother were hit by shrapnel and are receiving medical treatment at Kutkai Public Hospital.

“I was in the room with three other children. Suddenly, the explosion burst through the walls and hit [my family]. My children are too frightened to speak now,” Ei Bu, the mother of the girl told The Irrawaddy.

The Yay Pu inspection gate between Theinni and Lashio townships. / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

The artillery shell hit a cornfield some 10 feet from the house; the three were wounded when shrapnel from the explosion penetrated the house.

The explosion threw villagers into a panic, sending them fleeing Saturday morning to a relief camp in urban Kutkai.

At a press conference on Friday, a Tatmadaw spokesperson said the military welcomes the rebel groups to join peace talks, but they will not tolerate any continued fighting.

Since the Aug. 15 attacks, over 3,000 locals have fled from their homes to relief camps in Kutkai and Lashio townships in northern Shan State.

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