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Around 2,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in northern Shan State amid intense fighting between Burmese government forces and the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), according to local NGOs.
The Ta-ang or Palaung are a Mon–Khmer ethnic minority found in Shan State of Burma, Yunnan Province of China and Northern Thailand. The recent hostilities have affected five Ta-ang villages, and other Lishaw and Chinese villages, according to a statement by the Ta-ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU) and Palaung Women’s Organisation (PWO).
The groups have detailed claims that the Burmese army have used fighter jets and helicopter gunships in what the groups call a “full-scale offensive” against the TNLA rebels in Mogok and Momit townships. The fighting erupted while the TNLA were carrying out an opium-eradication mission, according to the statement, released 4 February.
DD Poe Kyein, general-secretary of the PWO, told DVB that two local villagers have been killed, including a pregnant woman. She also said that three others were injured in an airstrike by the Burmese military during the skirmish on 3 February.
“A pregnant woman and a male – residents in a village named Pangdika – died. Three others including two children were injured. The children were sent to the hospital in Mandalay and the third patient is now at Mogok hospital,” said DD Poe Kyein.
She said that approximately 2,000 locals from villages between Mogok and Mongmit – including Loisa, Loilen, Panghka, Shwenaungbin, Sailen, Loihein, Painpyit, Pangtinhom and Pangdika – have fled their home in fear of their safety. Many displaced villagers are reportedly being sheltered at local monasteries in Mogok, while others took refuge in the jungle.
The displaced people are being provided with relief by local monasteries, town residents and the Red Cross, as well as the government administration in Mogok.
Abbot Arsaria of Kadutsho village monastery in Mogok said that he and some local volunteers had rescued villagers from Shwenyaungbin and Sailen who were hiding in the jungle.
“These two villages are trapped in the fighting, and residents had gone to hide in the jungle. We went to pick them up once the fighting calmed down,” said Abbot Arsaria.
“We found a resident from one of the ethnic Chinese villages lying on the ground with gunshot wounds on his arm and chest. He was bleeding out and fainting, so we carried him to a shelter on a bike.”
The abbot said another villager had died from gunshot wounds, while three others were hospitalised with injuries.
Burma’s Ministry of Information has reported that five Burmese soldiers and 10 TNLA fighters had been killed in skirmishes between Mogok and Mongmit on 2 and 3 February.