Armed Conflict Reaches Hsenwi Town, Injuring Locals


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Seven civilians were injured after heavy weapons were fired during fighting between the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Hsenwi town in northern Shan State on Wednesday.

Parliamentarian Sai Oo Kham, who represents Hsenwi Township, said that the clash occurred in downtown Hsenwi at around 6:30 a.m. and that artillery shells hit local houses.

“Shells landed on houses in Ward 1 near the market in downtown Hsenwi… There were holes on the roofs of three to four houses,” he told NMG.

The seven people hit by shrapnel endured “minor injuries,” Sai Oo Kham added, and that they were receiving treatment at Hsenwi public hospital.

The MP heard the sound of gunshots when he woke up on Wednesday morning.

“I was afraid to go outside of my home,” he said.

According to Sai Oo Kham, the TNLA attacked a Burma Army convoy stationed in the area, leading to both casualties and injuries among Tatmadaw soldiers, the numbers of which could not be confirmed. However, another local source said that it wasn’t clear which side shot first, but confirmed that the gunfire began at 6:30 a.m., with shots coming from the entrance to the Hsenwi market.

“Military vehicles entered the town. At least six to seven shells landed on houses. I don’t know which side opened fire,” Zaw Tika, the chairperson of Hsenwi’s Ta’ang Literature and Culture Association, told NMG. “I don’t know which armed organizations were fighting. From this side, it was the Burma Army.”

According to Zaw Tika, clashes had stopped by midday. Sai Oo Kham said that roads to the town—which had been temporarily closed—had reopened.

“We haven’t had an experience like this, with clashes occurring downtown,” Sai Oo Kham said, adding that armies should not allow fighting to break out in these areas.

NMG contacted both the Burma Army and the TNLA for comment, but had not received a response at the time of reporting.

Armed conflict in northern Shan State has intensified in recent months. Following military offensives against ethnic armed organizations, joint forces belonging to the TNLA, Arakan Army and the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army attacked military and police outposts and infrastructure, including the Defense Services Technological Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin on August 15. Fighting between the Burma Army and the joint forces in northern Shan State has displaced thousands, with both sides declaring their own unilateral ceasefires.

From mid-September, armed conflict appeared to deescalate, but resumed on October 9.