Northern Alliance Member Rejects Defense Ministry Report on Kokang Conflict

By Lawi Weng 24 March 2017

RANGOON — Twenty-eight Kokang rebels have been killed, along with an unspecified number of Burma Army soldiers, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ministry of Defense, in reference to recent clashes between state forces and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

The Burma Army has seized multiple bases from MNDAA, as well as weapons, according to the report.

“From March 6 up to today, 28 insurgents have been killed. Some Tatmadaw members, including officers, have been killed and wounded,” the report stated.

Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army—an ally of the MNDAA and fellow member of the ethnic coalition the Northern Alliance—rejected the assertions in the defense ministry’s report, calling it a “white lie” to the people of the country in preparation for Armed Forces Day, a national holiday observed on March 27.

“It is not true. Our troops are still attacking them,” Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw said, adding that both sides have experienced casualties, but that the number given—28—was too high. It was likely closer to 10, he said.

Fighting continued on Friday at mountain outposts, according to the TNLA general.

The Northern Alliance—to which the Kachin Independence Army and the Arakan Army belong, in addition to the TNLA and MNDAA—has lost some bases, Tar Phone Kyaw said, citing artillery fire by the Burma Army, which caused ethnic armed organizations’ troops to withdraw.

Fighting broke out on March 6, when members of the MNDAA and AA launched an attack in the town of Laukkai—the administrative capital of the Kokang region—killing at least 10 people.

Thousands people in the Kokang area have fled across the Chinese border following the clashes.

The report also accused the MNDAA tried to damage China-Burma relations in the Laukkai attack, creating a political and military crisis.

“We cannot damage their relationship. We, too, care about having a better relationship with China, as we also have to deal with China,” said Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw.