Shelling Sends Civilians Fleeing in Shan State

By Nyein Nyein 14 July 2015

More than 100 people from Kaung Kha village in Muse Township have fled their homes after artillery shells were fired into the settlement on Monday, reportedly leaving one person dead and two others injured.

The displaced villagers told The Irrawaddy that the artillery bombardment began at about 10 am on Monday and stopped sometime in the afternoon. The villagers have sought shelter at nearby Namtaw village and say they dare not return to their homes amid reports that the Burma Army is occupying the village.

La Seng, one of the affected villagers, said one man was killed in the shelling and a husband and wife sustained injuries and were taken to hospital in the town of Muse for treatment.

“We ran from our village and still are not able to go back today,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. “We left our homes without being able to shut our doors or take anything.”

Police Col. San Lwin, from the Shan State Police, confirmed the injuries but said the man killed on Monday had stepped on a landmine.

“Two local villagers were injured from the explosion of artillery due to engagement between the Tatmadaw [Burma Army] troops and the KIA [Kachin Independence Army]. Those two were sent to Pang Sai hospital at 10 am and then transferred to Muse hospital at 2 pm,” San Lwin said, adding that their conditions were not serious.

Located in Pang Sai sub-township, Kaung Kha village was the site of the rape and murder of two Kachin schoolteachers in January of this year that has gone unsolved amid allegations implicating Burma Army soldiers who were stationed nearby at the time.

Burma Army and KIA troops often pass through the area, according to La Seng.

La Seng said there are about 140 people living in Kaung Kha and all had fled after Monday’s shelling. “We have over 100 people now, and the church in Namtaw village, in Mong Paw town, is supporting all of us with food and shelter,” he said.

The Irrawaddy’s attempts to reach the KIA were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, fighting continued on Tuesday in Kawkareik, Karen State, days after the Burma Army declared that it had taken control of the area and reopened the Asia Highway. Clashes near the new route in southeastern Burma began on July 2 and have pitted the Burma Army against the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), an ethnic Karen armed group.

Intense fighting on Tuesday morning occurred some three miles south of Kawkareik town and lasted until noon, according to Maj. San Aung of the DKBA.

He told The Irrawaddy that the Burma Army had fired artillery rounds that landed in the Kawkareik Township village of Myohaung, but a casualty count was not yet known.

San Aung added that a DKBA liaison officer, Maj. Saw Thaye Ni, and a staffer at the liaison office in Kawkareik were detained by authorities on Monday.

Kyaw Kha and Nang Seng Nom contributed to this report.