An armed clash erupted on Wednesday morning in southern Shan State between troops of the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA).
According to Khun Myint Tun, the chairman of the PNLA’s political wing, the Pa-O National Liberation Organization, the fighting broke out at dawn around the village of NongTon Ki in Mauk Mae Township.
“Fighting broke out at around 6am and has continued all morning,” he told DVB at 10:30am.
The PNLO chairman declined to give out details of how and why the battle broke out, but suggested it could be linked to a residential development project that is currently going ahead in the area.
The fighting occurred at the Nong Ton Ki village in Kadugyi area, where the Pa-O National Liberation Front has been based following a ceasefire agreement with the Union Government.
“We are constructing a new residential zone called Khanpake in the Kadugyi area,” he said. “This is intended as a place for our soldiers and their families to live, and is being implemented in cooperation with the central government.”
He noted that on 21 August, the SSA-S had arrested three soldiers from the PNLO, though he did not directly attribute that incident to this morning’s violence.
The Pa-O leader said that he has called for the United Nationalities Federal Council to send a delegation to resolve the matter.
On 23 August, SSA-S chief Lt-Gen.Yawd Serk reportedly sent a letter to the PNLO command, requesting it to withdraw Pa-O troops from the area. The letter had apparently alluded to an announcement that Naypyidaw had recognised the disputed area as a Pa-O autonomous region.
Both, the PNLO and the SSA-S, have signed ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government; however while the Pa-O have attended nationwide ceasefire talks in recent months, the Shan army has not fully committed to the current peace process.