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Four civilians hit by shelling in TNLA-Burma Army clashes

TNLA troops in Shan State. (Photo: Facebook / TNLA News and Information Department)

Skirmishes between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Tatmadaw in northern Shan State saw four civilians injured by artillery fire early Sunday morning, and potentially hundreds more flee out of fear for their safety.

“The TNLA entered the village so the Tatmadaw launched attacks on the TNLA troops. Artillery shells destroyed about 10 houses in the village,” said Myint Kyaw, chair of the Namhkam Ta’ang Literature and Culture Organisation, referring to Kaung Wine village, located some six miles from the town of Namkham.

“A total of four villagers who were hiding in the houses were also injured. In one household, three family members were injured. A two-year-old girl was hit by shrapnel from an artillery shell and had an operation at Namhkam Hospital,” Myint Kyaw said, adding that the toddler’s mother and father were also injured in the incident.

At another house, an individual hit by shrapnel remained in critical condition and was receiving treatment at the hospital in Namhkam, according to Myint Kyaw.

“He was hiding under the house when an artillery shell landed on his house and also injured him. The injured persons were brought to the hospital by the villagers and our team waited half-way and accompanied them to the hospital. They are now at Namhkam Hospital.”

Relative quiet has returned to Kaung Wine village, Myint Kyaw said, while adding that many had fled their homes in the wake of the fighting.

“After the TNLA withdrew its troops, the skirmishes halted. Tatmadaw soldiers are positioned in the village and the villagers do not dare to stay at their homes. They are seeking refuge in a monastery and a community hall.”

Myint Kyaw described Kaung Wine as a “big village” of some 200 households.

“So, there are about 1,000 villagers who fled their homes,” he added.

Mai Aik Kyaw, the TNLA’s information officer, confirmed the weekend hostilities.

“The Tatmadaw’s 88th Infantry Battalion launched an offensive against us in our operational area so TNLA troops met head-to-head with the Tatmadaw and fighting erupted between Loi Laung village and Kaung Wine village from 5:30am to 8am,” he said.

“We can say that the fighting was quite severe. Until 10am, after the fighting, Tatmadaw troops were still bombarding with artillery shells. We did not count how many times shells were launched. The two sides are at loggerheads. Skirmishes could resume again at any time.”

Sunday’s fighting marked the latest in a series of clashes between the TNLA and the Tatmadaw, with more than 100 people fleeing conflict-hit villages in Namhsan Township, Shan State, to the town of Namtu on Tuesday.

At time of press, the Tatmadaw had not released any information on hostilities in or around Kaung Wine village.