Fighting broke out on Sunday between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and government troops along a road linking the villages of Pansan and Pankyan, near the town of Kyaukme in northern Shan State.
A TNLA officer told DVB, “We came down from Pansan. The Tatmadaw [Burma Army] came out from Pankyan. When we reached the junction between the two villages, we met head-to-head and fighting broke out. The fighting lasted for about two hours, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.”
A spokesperson for the TNLA, Mai Aik Kyaw, confirmed that a clash had occurred but could not provide any additional details.
“We haven’t yet made phone contact on how it happened and what the situation is,” he told DVB.
A casualty count could not yet be ascertained on Monday but villagers from Pansan said they found and subsequently buried the bodies of three men wearing TNLA uniforms.
Some civilians working on tea plantations in the area found themselves pinned down by Sunday’s fighting.
“In the early morning when we went to the tea plantation, there were no Burmese soldiers nor Palaung [Ta’ang] soldiers,” said a Pansan local. “Soon after we had our lunch, we heard gunshots. The clash was on the way and we don’t dare to go home. Now, we are still at the tea plantation site. There are 13 of us here.”
On Saturday, two other clashes between the TNLA and Tatmadaw were reported in Namkham and Mong Tong townships.
“Since 10 a.m., we started to hear sounds from heavy weaponry, until 12. The clash was a bit far outside the village,” said a local resident of Mong Sut village.
As of Monday afternoon, the Tatmadaw had not released any information on the latest clashes with the TNLA.
The years-long conflict between the two sides grew more complicated in November, when the TNLA joined forces with three other ethnic armed groups, declaring the establishment of a “Northern Alliance” in response to continued Tatmadaw offensives in the region.