Civilians suffer as clashes with TNLA intensify

Civilians in northern Shan State have borne the brunt of the recent hostilities between Burmese government forces and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

Since November 2015, clashes have been regularly reported in the townships of Kyaukme, Namhsan and Marntong. Fighting broke out only a month after eight ethnic armed groups had signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement with the government, an accord which the TNLA was excluded from.

Reached for comment, Maj. Tar Aik Kyaw, a representative of the TNLA’s News and Information Department, said that fighting has intensified during these last few days. He said that the Burmese army had advanced in the Taang (or Palaung) militia’s territory, and that had caused the fighting.

“More than 60 [Burmese] military trucks are now stationed in Muse and Kutkhai,” he said.

According to local resident Mai Aung Maine: “In Mong Gaw area, the local air force announced that it could not be responsible for anyone travelling outside between 7 pm and the early morning.
He said that both sides were employing heavy weapons against each other near Mong Gaw.
“We are so fearful because it is so close to our village,” he said. “Right now, it’s time to harvest our fields of rice and tea, but we dare not go outdoors to work. Even going to market is difficult.”
According to a resident in the area who wished to remain anonymous, fighting broke out when the Burmese government units reinforced their troops in the area.

“If they did not send in troops, there would be no fighting,” he said. “We [Ta’ang] have never entered into areas under their control. We are calling on the Tatmadaw [Burma military] to stop reinforcing its troop strength.”

Speaking to Shan Herald, Sai Than Muang, a member of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy in Kyaukme Township, said, “I think both the government and the military understand fully well what they are doing and that they are causing suffering among the civilian population.”
He added that local residents were faced with further hardship because Chinese traders were now refusing to buy their crops.
The TNLA’s News and Information Department has regularly reported that government troops arbitrarily arrest, torture, kill and use local villagers as human shields in their battles against the Palaung militia.
On October 27, Shan Herald also reported that a man was shot dead by a Burmese soldier in central Shan State’s Mong Hsu Township while he was driving his motorbike home.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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