Burmese army clashes with armed Shan groups

Burmese army clashes with armed Shan groups

The Shan State Army-South and Shan State Army-North have engaged in brief clashes with the Burmese Army during the last week despite reaching union-level ceasefire agreements with the government.

A battalion commander from Shan State Army-North told DVB a four-hour firefight broke out when troops from the Burmese Army’s 516th Infantry Battalion entered the group’s territory in Loilen district’s Monghsu township on 17 June after two Burmese soldiers were reportedly killed by a mine explosion.

The SSA-N signed a union-level ceasefire agreement in February with the government. However, the group has had 17 clashes with Burmese Army since agreeing to the deal.

The SSA-N, which is represented politically by the Shan State Progressive Party, is independent from the SSA-S, which is represented by the Restoration Council of Shan State.

The SSA-S’s spokesperson major Sai Lao Hseng said the armed group was also attacked by government troops last week.

According to the major, more than 100 troops from the Burmese Army’s 25th and 65th Infantry Battalions began surrounding its forward operating base in Mongton township, in eastern Shan State’s Monghsat district on 15 June before launching an assault the next morning.

The SSA-S troops withdrew from the base, which was later burnt down by the Burmese troops. There were no casualties reported in the skirmishes’ wake.

“As soon as we heard the report [that the Burmese troops were surrounding us], we dispatched an order to our troops to withdraw but they were unable to comply with that order immediately so they remained there for a night,” said Sai Lao Hseng.

“They were going to withdraw but the [Burmese troops] launched their assault before they could do so.”

In May, the government’s newly formed peace committee signed a deal during the second round of talks with the SSA-S that were aimed at preventing further fighting from breaking out. Leading members of the Burmese army, including Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win and three regional commanders participated in the negotiations.

“This puts doubt in our minds regarding building peace,” said Sai Lao Hseng. “How could we manage this if we cannot even build trust?”

He said the group has had two skirmishes with the Burmese army since meeting with the government on 19 May.

The SSA-S has sent a complaint letter to the government’s Peace Making Committee.

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