More than 200 villagers in the northern Shan State district of Kyaukme were forced to flee their homes when gunfire erupted in the area on Friday.
The displaced locals from six villages in Namtu Township are now sheltering at Shwemyintha Monastery in the town, said its abbot Arseinna.
“The IDPs [internally displaced persons] fled their homes when they heard gunfire around their villages on Friday. They have been arriving at the monastery in small groups and so far there are 218 people,” said the senior Buddhist monk.
“They claimed that three or four villagers from Wanmai were abducted by the Palaung armed group [TNLA] and are yet to return.”
The abbot said that the identities of the detained villagers had not yet been established, but that it was reported to him that they were abducted by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army while on their way home from working on farms just outside their village.
The IDPs are being provided relief by local sympathisers. The town administration has set up a committee to provide them assistance.
Meanwhile, the TNLA issued a statement recently claiming more than 200 villagers in Kyaukme’s Hsipaw Township were forced to flee their home amid threats and “preparations for war” by the Shan State Army-South (RCSS-SSA) on 6 July.
The TNLA was unavailable for comment.
The TNLA, a non-signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), and the RCSS-SSA began clashing in November after the latter signed the NCA with the Burmese government.
The news of the recent displacements in Namtu comes just a few weeks after it was reported that some 400 IDPs had been able to return to their villages during a lull in fighting.