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Two local villagers were killed on Tuesday when an artillery shell landed on their home amid clashes between Burmese government forces and ethnic fighters in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township.
A local source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the victims — a woman named Mar Sa Awng and her son — were in their home in the village of Namhkom, about three miles outside Kutkai town, when the shell landed on the house.
“The village is situated at the foot of a hill and the rebels were taking positions on the hillside, firing at [army] positions. The [army] retaliated with artillery fire but it fell short and landed in the village,” said the local source.
According to residents of Kutkai and the nearby town of Namphatka, fighting between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed groups broke out on the main road connecting the towns at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
“The fighting started around five minutes past 4 a.m. — there was artillery shelling, and the main highway to Kutkai was subsequently closed,” said Aung Mya, a resident in Namphatka town, about 30 kilometres north of Kutkai.
“I was too scared to go outside to look.”
A Kutkai resident, also on condition of anonymity, said: “I was travelling to the 105-mile [trade zone in Muse town] but when I got to Namphatka, I was told the situation wasn’t very good so we turned back.”
Meanwhile, locals in nearby Kyaukme town also reported clashes between government troops and rebel forces in villages surrounding the town on Monday evening.
In November, the townships of Kutkai and neighbouring Muse were the site of a coordinated assault on police and military outposts by the Northern Alliance, a coalition of four ethnic armed groups. Fighting in the area has continued intermittently in the months since.