FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
The death toll has risen to 10 in an artillery strike on Laukkai Township on Nov. 22. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the military have been fighting for control of the town, located in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone of northern Shan State, since Oct. 27.
The MNDAA blamed the military for firing the artillery that killed four people inside Laukkai. Residents have been unable to confirm which side fired the artillery but they are trapped inside the town waiting to be allowed to leave. Regime media blamed yesterday’s attack on the MNDAA.
“When people tried to leave the town, the soldiers stopped them. The soldiers are using the civilians as human shields,” said an unnamed Laukkai Township resident. The MNDAA also claimed that the military is using the trapped residents to stop it from advancing to seize Laukkai.
“I suggest civilians keep away from military bases and government offices. We have already informed them not to leave the town. We are providing shelter [to those displaced by the fighting] as much as we can for those in our reach. We have to find a solution for those trapped inside the town,” said Li Kyar Win, the MNDAA spokesperson
Local rescue teams stated that they are trying to reach people trapped between Laukkai and Chinshwehaw without access to phones or the internet. “There are two gates located between Chinshwehaw and Laukkai townships. If those people can return to Par Hsin Kyaw gate in Laukkai, we can go there to rescue them or provide them with food,” said a Laukkai rescue team spokesperson.
The people trapped in Laukkai are facing rising food costs as fuel and transportation costs have also mounted over the last four weeks since Operation 1027 was launched by the Brotherhood Alliance, consisting of the MNDAA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA).
The military has established Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Laukkai but very little food is being provided to them. It is also restricting anyone from leaving Laukkai. The Tai Students’ Union states that over 80,000 people have become IDPs across northern Shan State since fighting began on Oct. 27.