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Burmese army artillery assault causes panic in Namhsan

FILE PHOTO: TNLA troops march across a field in Shan State. The TNLA is one of three groups that were previously excluded from peace talks in Burma. (Photo: TNLA)

Artillery shelling by Burmese government forces close to the Palaung (Ta’ang) Self-Administered Zone capital Namhsan has caused panic among local residents, according to a local politician.

Thein Zaw, an executive committee member of the Palaung regional administration and MP representing Mantong Township in the Shan State regional assembly, told DVB that government forces’ 1st Military Operations Command (MOC-1), situated east of Namhsan town, launched artillery strikes towards a village outside the town on Tuesday morning amid clashes with the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA).

“Burmese troops under MOC-1 fired about five rounds on [Tuesday] morning which landed near a village about five miles outside Namhsan, residents informed us,” said Thein Zaw.

He said the Burmese army began shelling the area after troops under the 120th Light Infantry Battalion suffered casualties when they were ambushed in Hochaung village about two miles outside Namhsan on 5 November, suggesting the step up in aggression could be connected to the incident.

“According to the local sources, a Burmese military column was hit with a mine explosion and suffered casualties in the early hours of 5 November,” he said. “Ten servicemen were injured in the attack, three of whom succumbed to their wounds at Namhsan hospital later that morning. Four others are still in critical condition.”

Thein Zaw noted that the artillery shelling began after the incident.

He said the ongoing violence between the Burmese army and TNLA in northern Shan State had compelled scores of local villagers to flee their homes, and he urged Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to take steps to alleviate the hostilities.

Meanwhile, the TNLA has released a statement, claiming the Burmese unit positioned around Namhsan had been shelling nearby villages with 105mm artillery rounds, which injured two residents in Humang village on 30 October.