Burma

Myanmar Troops Clash With Ethnic Shan Armed Group in Northern Shan State

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 24 July 2020

Yangon – More than 200 residents have fled their village following a clash between Myanmar’s military (the Tatmadaw) and the Shan State Army – North (SSA-N), the armed wing of Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), in Hsipaw Township in northern Shan State.

The two sides clashed on Wednesday evening near Nar Ohn Village, forcing residents to flee to Saung Kye Village, around 11 km away.

“The fighting took place more than 50 km from Hsipaw town. More than 200 residents have fled to Saung Kye. There were no clashes today,” Shan State lawmaker representing Hsipaw Township Sai Kham Maung told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

There were no reported civilian casualties in the fighting. According to Sai Kham Maung, the clash followed an unexpected encounter between the two sides.

“The situation is not serious in Hsipaw. As Tatmadaw troops pushed around 12 km into the forest from the road, they encountered [SSPP troops]. The engagement happened in the forest,” said Sai Kham Maung.

Myanmar’s military said it has declared a unilateral ceasefire to prevent, control and treat COVID-19. The ceasefire covers northern Shan State and is due to last until August 31.

“Troops patrolling at Namlan in Kyaukme Township clashed with the SSPP, which is based in Wanhai. They were just on their regular patrol. The SSPP opened fire on us. We estimated that there were around 50 SSPP fighters. There were no injuries,” Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun of the military-run Tatmadaw True News Information Team told The Irrawaddy.

When asked why armed troops are patrolling despite the ceasefire, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said regular patrols are continuing for public and regional security.

“We will maintain regular patrols and measures for public security and logistical movements. [The clash] happened because [the SSPP] opened fire on our troops,” he said.

Nar Ohn villagers plan to return when the situation returns to normal. Ko Myo, a volunteer from a Hsipaw-based group helping the displaced villagers, said his group planned to provide food but heard they will be returning soon.

“We will wait for a day. If they go back to their village, we will not help them. But if they don’t, we will definitely provide assistance,” said Ko Myo.

Myanmar’s military and the SSPP signed a state-level ceasefire agreement, but sporadic clashes have been reported in Lashio and Hsipaw townships in northern Shan State.

The Irrawaddy was unable to obtain a comment from the SSPP.

The SSPP is a member of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, which refuses to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government.

It consists of the United Wa State Army, Kachin Independence Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Arakan Army and the SSPP.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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