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A gunfight between ethnic armed group the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the government-backed Pangsay People’s Militia (PPM) took place in northern Shan State late last week, with at least two reported dead.
TNLA troops attacked a PPM outpost in Twelve Mile village, Namkham Township that was being used as a narcotics hub, according to TNLA Foreign Affairs Department Chief Ta Parn La.
“Our troops launched an attack on the PPM base – which is known for drug distribution – at around 2pm on 17 April. The fighting lasted for about half an hour as they resisted our attack, but they eventually withdrew from the position,” said Ta Parn La.
An online statement from the TNLA puts the fighting at two hours in which the PPM suffered four deaths and six injured, with no TNLA casualties.
According to the TNLA, over one and a half kilograms of opium was seized, along with 142,000 pills of methamphetamine and ten kilograms of heroin, totalling more than 35 million kyat (USD$35,000), as well as firearms and a walkie-talkie.
The TNLA assert that they routinely engage in drug eradication, an effort they say stems the flow of funds to Burmese army forces.
Reports issued by the Burmese government confirm the TNLA attack on the outpost. The government alleges further violence however, including the TNLA killing of civilians.
Naypyidaw stated that 17 April, 15 Ta-ang troops in civilian clothing attacked a wedding party at Twelve Mile village, abducting the bride and groom, before firing on the PPM outpost with small arms. One Ta-ang fighter and a female civilian were killed, with two other civilians injured, according to the official reports.
A local resident told DVB that Ta-ang troops had arrived in four vehicles and fired on a local home, killing five people including the elderly home owner.
The Pangsay militia is part of the pro-government Regional People’s Militia formed under the 2010 Border Guard Force scheme. It is led by Kyaw Myint, a Union Solidarity and Development Party representative in the Shan State regional parliament.
The TNLA has subsequently released a statement prohibiting the movement of PPM vehicles along the Namhkam-Namphatka road.