RANGOON — Two explosions rocked a Burma Army military installation in Lashio on Wednesday night, about 80 miles southwest of recent fighting between the government and ethnic armed forces in northern Shan State.
Residents in Lashio told The Irrawaddy that they heard two explosions in the direction of the military’s Northeast Regional Command compound at around 8:30 pm on Wednesday. A casualty count was not immediately known, but security in the area had been tightened on Thursday morning.
“We heard two explosions inside their command. The first blast was not loud, but the second blast was very loud,” said a university student in Lashio who added that the incident might be linked to fighting in northern Shan State, where the Burma Army has been battling with ethnic Kokang rebels since Feb. 10.
The conflict between government troops and Kokang fighters of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) has led tens of thousands of people to flee to Lashio and other parts of Burma, as well as across the border into China. The hostilities have also involved at least two other ethnic armed groups in Burma, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army.
“Our residents believe that some ethnic armed groups may have thrown a grenade or bombs into their compound area. This area is near a public road, and someone could have thrown explosive devices inside the compound,” said the university student.
Col. San Lwin, who heads the Taunggyi Police Station, told The Irrawaddy that armed men had shot mortars into the compound, but he declined to provide further details of an ongoing investigation into the explosions.
“They [armed men] came to attack the base with their artillery, but we do not know yet who it was,” said San Lwin on Thursday, adding that The Irrawaddy could call back later in the day for more information.
Clashes between government troops and ethnic rebels in northeast Burma have been an almost daily occurrence since fighting first broke out in the Kokang Special Region last month. This week renewed fighting elsewhere in Namkham Township, Shan State, pitted the TNLA against the Burma Army, forcing more than 1,000 civilians to flee the village of Kaung Wine. The internally displaces persons (IDPs) are sheltering at a nearby monastery.
The TNLA on its Facebook page claimed that four Burma Army soldiers were killed in fighting in the Kaung Wine area, adding that no TNLA soldiers had been killed.