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The Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) endured a six-hour clash on Monday morning with the Burmese army in northern Shan state’s Namtu township, a spokesman for the ethnic army told DVB.
Capt Sai Phone Harn of the SSA-N information team said the group engaged in a six-hour exchange of small arms with the Tatmadaw in the early hours of 23 September in Namtu’s Mongyin village-tract which was the scene of a shorter battle one week ago.
He said the Burmese army’s Light Infantry Battalion 504, reinforced by troops previously mobilised from Lashio township, launched an assault before dawn on SSA-N forces positioned across the Namtu River prompting the rebels to return fire.
“The fighting started around 4:30 am when the government forces came across the river and launched an attack on us,” said Sai Phone Harn.
He said hostilities ended after the Shan troops withdrew into a nearby forest, but did not rule out the possibility of further clashes at any time as the Burmese forces still remained in their positions.
Sunday’s clash forced Buddhist monks and novices to flee from a monastery in nearby Konmon village and caused panic among residents in the village, he said.
Sai Phone Harn told DVB on Tuesday that the SSA-N had reached out to the Shan state government’s Border Region and Security Affairs Minister Col Aung Thu, urging him to use his influence to stop the Burmese army’s advance. In response, the minister promised to raise the matter with senior government officials, the SSA-N spokesman said.
A similar approach was reportedly made to Aung Thu last week after the clash, but apparently without success.
Sai Phone Harn said the SSA-N also urged Union Minister Aung Min to prevent further fighting when they sat down for talks on 20 September with the government’s Peace-making Work Committee in state capital Taunggyi.
Although the SSA-N and the government have reached ceasefire agreements at state and union levels, more than 100 clashes and skirmishes have been reported over the past year.