DVB Multimedia Group

8 killed as ethnic rebels hit Muse

The bodies of three police officers lay on the ground as another body is carried away, following an attack by ethnic rebels on a checkpoint in Muse on 20 November 2016. (Photo: DVB)

Eight people, including police officers and soldiers, were killed in Muse on Sunday when they came under attack by ethnic armed groups, according to the regional police.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) on 20 November reportedly launched coordinated attacks on Burmese military and police outposts in northern Shan State’s Muse District.

Pol-Col Aung Myat Moe, deputy-commander of the Shan State Police Force, said that more than 100 rebel fighters carried out a surprise attack on a security outpost at the bridge crossing the Nangpau creek around 8am on Sunday, resulting in eight deaths.

“Three police officers and a Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] serviceman were killed, and nine other policemen were injured in the attack. There were also civilian casualties –four dead and 17 injured,” he said.

Aung Myat Moe told DVB that there were only about 20 security personnel at the checkpoint when the attack took place, and that they were vastly outnumbered by the rebels.

In addition to the deadly attack on Nangpau bridge crossing, the KIA, TNLA and MNDAA – three armed groups that had been left out of peace talks between the government and ethnic organisations last year– carried out several other synchronised attacks on Sunday: on four police outposts in Muse and Pang Hseng; at the 105-Mile Trade Zone, a few miles outside Muse towards the Chinese border; and on three military bases in Pang Hseng, Mongko and the 105-Mile Trade Zone.

Shan police said on Monday that clashes were continuing in Muse after Tatmadaw units launched a counter-offensive.

Meanwhile, local civic organisations and charity groups have reported that more than 3,000 civilians from villages around Muse were evacuated from their homes and are currently being sheltered in makeshift relief camps set up at Buddhist monasteries around the town.

“More than 3,000 displaced persons are at monasteries in Muse, and are receiving food from local people in the town,” said Thaung Tun, chairman of the local charity group Karuna Social Assistance Association.

He said the majority of the refugees were from villages around 105-Mile Trade Zone and that they were in need of blankets and warm clothing as nights are becoming colder.

On Monday, locals in Muse town reported that the town market was quiet. Local government schools were open, but most parents kept their children at home.

However, it was reported that ambulances evacuating civilians from the 105-Mile market came under fire on Monday.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s State Counsellor’s Office reported that the ambulances belonged to Muse-based philanthropic groups Mettamon and Parami. They were apparently attacked with small-arms fire by assailants positioned on a hillside overlooking the road.

Charity worker Ye Min Aung, who was riding in one of the vehicles, was shot in the chest, prompting the rescue team to turn back to Muse, where he was treated.

The Information Committee of the State Counsellor’s Office said the attack on the ambulances was carried out by joint-forces of the TNLA, MNDAA and KIA.