Shan rebels, army engage in brief fight

Shan rebels, army engage in brief fight

A temporary exchange of gunfire broke out between the Shan State Army-South and the Burmese army on 23 May, four days after the groups signed a union-level ceasefire agreement.

SSA-S spokesperson Sai Lao Hseng said the Burmese troops from Shan state’s Mongtong-based 65th Infantry Battalion were chasing after deserters when they ran into SSA-S troops near Ponparkyin sub-township.

No one was injured during the skirmish that ended abruptly after a few minutes of fighting.

Sai Lao Hseng said the Burmese Army should have informed the SSA-S in advance before entering the group’s territory and they could have provided them with assistance in capturing the deserters.

The spokesperson added that the clash took place because the Burmese soldiers were not following their superiors’ orders.

“The government told us that clashes broke out in the past due to misunderstanding and told us that this wouldn’t happen again after the second round of union-level peace talks,” said Sai Lao Hseng.

“But we think it will continue to be like this unless soldiers at the bottom begin to comply with their official’s orders and agreements. We think [the Burmese Army] should issue orders and explanations for their soldiers [so they] understand the situation.”

On 19 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. The talks marked the military’s first appearance in the peace process.

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