DVB Multimedia Group

TNLA conflict: Woman, 80, killed in artillery strike

Troops of the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (Photo: TNLA)

An elderly villager was killed when artillery shells landed in her village amid fighting between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Burmese government forces in northern Shan State’s Muse District, according to the ethnic armed group.

TNLA spokesperson Ta Aik Kyaw said the Ta’ang militia engaged with the Burmese army’s 88th Infantry Battalion yesterday when the government troops advanced on rebel positions in a wooded area between the villages of Kawngkher and Pangsang in Namhkam Township.

“We engaged in a fight with the 88th Infantry Battalion when their troops advanced on our positions yesterday at around 10am,” said Ta Aik Kyaw, adding that hostilities continued until 2pm.

“After the fighting subsided, the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] then launched an artillery strike from their base north of Namhkam towards Pangsang village. An 80-year-old woman named Ya Lai was killed when a shell landed on her house.”

Ta Aik Kyaw said the TNLA is still trying to ascertain if there are more civilian casualties. He said the Burmese military also dispatched three helicopter gunships to attack TNLA units around the villages.

A local resident in Namhkam said he heard gunfire and saw smoke rising from the village of Kawngkher on Tuesday morning.

“We have been hearing gunfire from Kawngkher, which is about four or five miles southeast of our town,” he told DVB today. “At around 3pm, the Tatmadaw base in Namhkam began launching artillery strikes in the direction of the Palaung [Ta’ang] villages where the TNLA troops were supposedly encamped.”

He said the sound of gunfire and artillery died down in the afternoon; however local residents are now fearful that similar attacks will occur again.

The TNLA reported yesterday that several clashes had occurred over the weekend, including skirmishes in Namtu, Kutkai and Namkham townships.

The Burmese military has yet to make a statement about any recent clashes with the Ta’ang rebels.

The years-long conflict between Burma’s government forces and the TNLA grew more complicated in November when the Ta’ang army joined forces with three other ethnic armed groups, declaring the establishment of a “Northern Alliance” in response to continued Tatmadaw offensives in the region.