Clash Between Rebel Groups in Myanmar’s Shan State Forces Villagers From Homes

Fighting that erupted between two rival armed ethnic groups in a village in Myanmar’s restive Shan state three days ago has injured one resident and forced nearly all of the 1,500 others to flee their homes, a village administrative official said Wednesday.

The map shows Namhkam and Kyaukme townships in northern Myanmar's Shan state.

The map shows Namhkam and Kyaukme townships in northern Myanmar’s Shan state.

Shelling between soldiers of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) injured the leg of one resident of Lotnaw village, Namhkam township, in northern Shan State, Eik Yai, chief administrator of the village, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

The wounded villager is being treated at the township hospital, he said.

“At about 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 7, about 300 troops from the rival RCSS/SSA-South came into the village where about 100 TNLA troops were based,” he said. “Then a big battle began, and the villagers fled amid heavy shelling.”

TNLA troops have been fighting with RCSS/SSA-South soldiers in Namhkam township since last November, but their clashes have intensified during the past few days in the area around Lotnaw village, residents said.

Village school shut

About 900 RCSS/SSA-S troops remain in Lotnaw, forcing residents of the four communities that comprise the village to seek shelter about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in the village of Mong Wee, Eik Yai said.

The fighting has also forced the village school to shut down temporarily, he said.

The clash has forced about 550 Lotnaw residents to seek shelter inside the Ta’ang literature and culture office in Mong Wee village, where they do not have enough blankets and must sleep on a concrete floor, while others have headed into the jungle, he said.

Most of the refugees are in their 50s and 60s, but their numbers also include roughly 200 children, he said, adding that more residents fleeing the fighting in Lotnaw are expected to arrive in Mong Wee.

About 300 refugees from Lotnaw have been living in nearby Mong Wee village since November, residents said.

Second township hit

Meanwhile, fighting between the two armed groups in Kyaukme township during the past days has reportedly injured several civilians and destroyed a home, forcing 300 villagers from the area to seek shelter in nearby Pan Hsan village, sources said.

The TNLA has been battling the RCSS, the political organization that oversees the SSA-S, near Mong Wee village in Namhkam township since Nov. 27, when the SSA-S crossed into front-line territory and opened fire, the online journal Irrawaddy reported.

During that time, Myanmar army forces had teamed up with the RCSS after the group signed a “nationwide cease-fire agreement” with the government and launched an offensive against the holdout rebel TNLA army in Shan state.

The 6,000-strong SSA-S was one of eight armed ethnic groups that signed the cease-fire pact with the government on Oct. 15.

The TNLA, along with two other armed ethnic groups, was not invited to sign the agreement because of ongoing hostilities with the Myanmar army, however.

Reported by Thiri Min Zin and Kan Tar for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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