Clashes Escalate Across the Country

By Lawi Weng 16 May 2018

Fighting between the Myanmar Army and ethnic armed forces has escalated not only in Kachin but also in Palaung, Kokang and Rakhine areas, the ethnic bloc the Northern Alliance reported on Wednesday.

Attacks have broken out nearly every day recently between the Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, and Northern Alliance members including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA).

On Tuesday, clashes occurred with government troops and KIA Brigade 2, Battalions 2 and 6 in the Hukawng area, as well as KIA Brigade 1, Battalion 4, in Injangyang Township, Kachin State.

The Northern Alliance claims that during an attack in Injangyang on May 15 between its troops and Myanmar Army Infantry Battalion 120 under Infantry Division 33, it seized guns, grenades, and ammunition, and that the government troops fled after suffering casualties.

The Myanmar Army used air strikes against KIA Battalion 6 in Hpakant Township on Tuesday, and the KIA suffered injuries, the Northern Alliance reported.

Joint alliance armed forces from the KIA Brigade 6 and the MNDAA have also clashed with the government troops recently, which the Northern Alliance posted video footage of.

There was also ongoing fighting almost every day in northern Shan State, according to Colonel Tar Aike Kyaw, a spokesperson from the TNLA.

“Clashes broke out 11 times in just the first half of this month,” said the spokesperson, adding that the Myanmar Army has continued to deploy troops in northern Shan.

The TNLA claims that fighting has broken out as the Myanmar Army attacks TNLA bases.

In Rakhine State, the AA reported that fighting has broken out three times in May.

The TNLA, AA and MNDAA issued a statement on May 8 that they would help fellow Northern Alliance group the KIA to fight the Myanmar Army, which continues to launch military offensives in Kachin.

Three days after issuing the statement, the TNLA launched attacks in Muse, Shan State, at a casino, police base and militia base – killing at least 19 people including police, local militia members and civilians.

Fighting escalated in Kachin after the Myanmar Army launched a military offensive on April 11 in Tanai. The UN reported that 10,000 Kachin IDPs have fled the area because of Myanmar Army offensives since then.

The Northern Alliance has pledged to fight back.

Right activists have launched protests across the country asking the Myanmar Army to stop the attacks in Kachin and for the rescue of displaced persons who have been trapped in Kachin due to fighting between the government troops and the KIA.

The Freedom of Expression Activist Organization reported that 42 rights activists have been charged in May for violating the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.