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Government soldiers in Burma’s northeastern Shan state have reportedly pillaged villages and assaulted inhabitants following a heavy clash with the opposition Shan State Army (SSA).
Troops from the SSA ambushed a column of Burmese soldiers in Mongshu township in eastern Shan state on 11 September, leaving three dead and eight wounded. The SSA says the subsequent attack on residents of Namsaing village in Mongshu is a commonplace occurrence.
“Whenever there is a clash, they enter the nearest village and arrest villagers, beat them up and interrogate them. And they also take food and provisions from the village,” said Major Sai La, spokesperson of the SSA’s political wing, the Shan State Progressive Party.
The two sides have been engaged in heavy fighting since March this year following a refusal by the SSA’s northern faction to become a government-controlled Border Guard Force.
A clash erupted on 8 September in the state’s northern district of Mong Yai, reportedly leaving one government soldier dead. Casualties for the SSA have not been reported.
Villagers have also reportedly been assaulted in an effort to extract information about the SSA. In Mong Yai’s Wanpon village, inhabitants were ordered to give out the names of villagers working in paddy fields; those found working in the fields who were not among the list would be threatened with death, locals reported.
The Burmese government has long been accused of war crimes in its effort to eliminate the country’s myriad armed opposition groups.
On several occasions this year troops have razed villages in the country’s border regions as part of the Four Cuts strategy, which looks to sever lines of civilian support and communication for ethnic armies.