Five Civilians, Including One Infant, Killed by Shelling in Shan State

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Five people were killed and three others were injured when an artillery shell landed on a house in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township on Saturday during fighting between the Burma Army and an alliance of three ethnic armed groups. Two children were among the dead.

“As far as I know, there were eight civilian casualties when the shell hit Maw Heik village. A nine-year-old boy, a five-month-old baby girl, and three women were killed. Two men and a woman were injured and are now in the hospital,” Mine Mai, a spokesperson for the Humanitarian Strategic Team-Northern Shan State (HST-NSS), a local relief group, told NMG.

One of the injured has been transferred to Lashio Hospital, while the two others are receiving treatment at Kutkai Public Hospital.

Sources said the clashes between the Burma Army and a joint force of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA), and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) broke out near Kutkai’s Ward 8 at around 8:30am on Saturday.

“I don’t know which organization opened fire with heavy weapons, but I’m sure both sides are using them,” said Mine Mai, adding that even though the clashes took place in Ward 8 on the Lashio Road, the shells landed in Maw Heik, which is near Ward 1 on the Muse Road.

The five fatalities were identified as Hoti Ja, 35, Lu Seng, 18, Nang Moong Pan, 14, Maung Zau Khun Latt, age nine, Seng Hkawng, age five months.

The injured were Yoi Bu, Bawk La, and Jon Dau.

There have been intense clashes in many locations across northern Shan State since the three ethnic armies carried out a series of coordinated attacks on army and police targets in and around Pyin Oo Lwin Township on August 15.

The ongoing conflict has been blamed not only for casualties, but also for a spike in human rights abuses against local civilians.

Yesterday’s deadly incident came as the government’s Peace Commission met on Saturday with representatives of the AA, TNLA, and MNDAA in Kengtung for talks aimed at reaching bilateral ceasefire agreements with the three armed groups.

Dr. Nyo Tun Aung, a representative for the AA, told media outlets after the meeting that none of the three allies targets civilians.

“We won’t hurt people. Rakhine people live in the Rakhine region, Ta’ang people live in the Ta’ang region and Kachin people live in the Kachin region. Our organizations are not killing our own people. I can say that we won’t shoot at civilians,” said Dr. Nyo Tun Aung.

In response, Mine Mai told NMG that conflict always result in civilian casualties.

“The number of civilian casualties increases when there are clashes. Don’t look for benefits from clashes, but consider people’s lives. Please, stop the war. I want to urge all stakeholders to stop the war and find a way to restore peace,” Mine Mai said.