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Clashes between the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Burmese army troops took place in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township on Monday.
Speaking by phone, TNLA spokesperson Mong Aik Kyaw told DVB that shelling of the Ta-ang [or Palaung] armed groups’ positions in the vicinity of Namphatka village on the morning of the 18 May had preceded an infantry assault during the afternoon.
“Government forces advanced on us. The Burmese army’s Namphatka-based 123rd Infantry Battalion began shelling our troops operating in the area at around 7am.
“At about 3pm, their infantry advanced closer to our positions, prompting an exchange of fire,” said Mon Aik Kyaw, adding the fight had lasted for more than an hour.
Prior to the attack, TNLA troops had been collecting ‘taxes’ from vehicles on the Mandalay-Muse road, around two miles away from the town of Namphatka.
“We were collecting taxes on the road to fund our resistance as government forces have stepped up their offence in our areas over the past years,” said Mon Aik Kyaw, adding that they collected between 10,000 and 100,000 kyat from each vehicle, but that those who could not pay would not face persecution.
The TNLA is a member of the ethnic bloc’s Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, which on 31 March reached agreement with the government’s Union Peace-Making Work Committee on a draft text of a nationwide ceasefire agreement, yet fighting between ethnic rebels and the Burmese army continues to rage in Kachin and northern Shan States.