Burma Army Offensive Leads to Five Days of Fighting in Northern Shan State

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Fighting between the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has been ongoing for five consecutive days in northern Shan State, with civilians suffering injuries in the intensifying conflict, locals say.

The Burma Army and TNLA have clashed in Kyaukme, Namhsan, Namphetka and Kutkai since November 11.

“We sent an injured person [to the hospital] this morning. The person had been injured since yesterday… they got injured in a sugarcane field in Namphetka,” Kyaw Win, a patron of the Namphetka Mettashin social volunteer team, told NMG on Friday

The individual was a 60-year-old ethnic Chinese man, hit by shrapnel from an artillery shell on his wrist, shoulder and thigh.

The Burma Army reportedly shot two rounds of heavy weapons near Namphetka on Friday morning, leading people who were traveling in the area to abandon their cars on the road near the Shukintha tower.

“Two motorbikes, which came from Mong Yulay village to Namphetka, were shot at near Yinkhwe hill in the evening of November 13. A monk and a villager were injured. We have transferred them from Namphetka hospital to Muse hospital,” Kyaw Win said.

Multiple clashes have broke out around Loi Samsip hill in Kutkai, with bullets hitting a bus belonging to the Aye Lyar Zar private school on November 14. A teacher and the bus driver were injured in the incident.

“Traveling cars were also attacked near the Kutkai golf club. I don’t exactly know how many cars were shot at. The road has been shut down off and on,” a local who is working for the Garuna Social Volunteer team in Kutkai town told NMG.

The Garuna member also added that shells had landed on the grounds of the Ta’ang Education Center on November 13. The organization helped to relocate around 80 students and teachers to safety.

Kyaukme has also seen days of armed conflict between the Burma Army and TNLA since November 10.

“They are fighting everyday. It’s not far from our Kyaukme [town]. Clashes have been occurring around Palaung [Ta’ang] villages,” a Kyaukme local told NMG, adding that the site of the fighting was about 12 miles northeast of the town. “The Burma Army has launched a military operation in the area, so there are many clashes there.”

The Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO) reported that two houses in Loi Peing village in Namhsan Township were damaged by the military’s artillery fire from Mong Ngaw on November 10.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw, who is in charge of the TNLA’s information department, confirmed the ongoing and widespread fighting with government forces to NMG on Friday.

“We had clashes with the Burma Army on the border between Kyaukme and Namhsan this morning. Clashes are off and on. We have also had clashes with the Burma Army between Kutkai and Namphetka. It’s also off and on,” he explained. “The clashes have yet to stop as of today. It’s because the Burma Army has launched a military offensive against us. We have had multiple clashes in recent days… The Burma Army is using excessive force to attack us,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw said.

The TNLA spokesperson said that his group had attacked Restoration Council of Shan State troops present in the area, after which the Burma Army entered TNLA territory and fired heavy weapons from their base in Mong Ngaw.

“Shells also landed in civilian villages. I think they shot at least 150 rounds of artillery shells. That’s why we don’t have any option but to defend ourselves. So there are many clashes,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw told NMG. The shells have reportedly hit communities in Namhsan and Mangton townships.

At the time of reporting, fighting was also continuing around Taw Hpe village in Kyaukme Township, with both the TNLA and the Burma Army active in the area. Locals have fled the area.