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TNLA clashes with Tatmadaw in Shan State’s Kutkai Township

FILE PHOTO: A Ta’ang National Liberation Army soldier looks on during the 51st anniversary of Ta’ang National Resistance Day at Homain, Nansan Township, in northern Shan State, on 12 January 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) erupted in several remote villages of Kutkai Township, Shan State, in recent days, sending possibly hundreds of locals fleeing to Kutkai town and the neighbouring township to the south, Hseni.

“Since 4 February, some villagers fled their homes to Kaung Ai village in Hseni Township because their village was bombarded with shells. The displaced are currently seeking refuge in a shelter inside the compound of a monastery,” said Reverend Khun Gaung from Hseni.

More than 150 people are seeking refuge in Hseni and the township administrator has provided rice and oil to the displaced population. Christian churches in the township are preparing to mobilise additional humanitarian support for the displaced.

The TNLA announced that in the early morning on 5 February, clashes between Tatmadaw Battalion No. 11 and TNLA troops flared around Papein and Ngor Ngar villages, about 30 miles outside of Kutkai town.

“The clashes erupted near my village,” said a local resident of Ngor Ngar village. “We heard the sounds of heavy weaponry. Many villagers fled to Mai Yu Lay and Nam Phat Kar villages.”

On the Facebook page of its Information Department, the TNLA stated that Burma’s armed forces had directed airstrikes at TNLA positions and launched ground-based offensives over the past three days.

Additionally, the TNLA announced that clashes took place between its troops and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) forces in Taw Pe and Kai Tai villages on the border of Kyaukme and Namhsan townships on Wednesday morning. The TNLA accused the RCSS of encroaching on its territory and said there were similar hostilities on 20 January.

The two ethnic armed groups have clashed several times in Shan State in recent years.