At least four Myanmar junta soldiers were killed on Wednesday and six others injured in fighting with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Namkham, northern Shan State.
The clashes are the first this year between ethnic armed group the TNLA and the military regime. Fighting between the TNLA and the Myanmar military has intensified since 2012, but lessened last year. Since the February 1 coup, the TNLA has clashed occasionally with junta troops, as well as with another Shan State-based ethnic armed group, the Restoration Council of Shan State.
After the clash on Wednesday afternoon, regime forces fired artillery rounds at TNLA fighters who were operating close to Namkham’s hospital, according to locals.
A local resident said that the TNLA came to the town’s hospital to search for something or someone, but said he didn’t know what they were looking for.
“They fired about six or seven artillery rounds. It was very loud and we heard that about five or six civilians near the hospital were injured,” said the resident.
Some locals think that the TNLA’s presence in Namkham may be connected to a shooting in the town’s Myoma Market on Tuesday, when two TNLA fighters were killed.
The Irrawaddy was unable to contact the TNLA’s spokesperson for comment.
A Ta’ang community news site, Shwe Pee Myay News Agency, said that six civilians from Hona Village, including a two-year-old child, a five-year-old child and two elderly women in their sixties were injured by the regime shelling.
The children were hit in their foreheads, shoulders and on their hands, while two adults suffered stomach wounds.
Along with three other ethnic armed groups, the TNLA is a member of the Brotherhood Alliance based in northeast Myanmar. Another alliance member, the Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, has clashed repeatedly with junta forces in the last few weeks.
The Brotherhood Alliance has condemned the junta’s Christmas Eve massacre in Kayah State’s Hpruso Township, when at least 35 civilians including two aid workers were tortured and burned to death by junta soldiers.
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