Shan Forces Clash in Hsipaw Township
‘I am not clear whether it’s one-sided shooting or two sides exchanging fire with one another,’ a local said of the fighting between the RCSS and SSPP.
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Troops belonging to the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) clashed along the Hsipaw-Nam Lan road in northern Shan State on Tuesday, local sources said.
A villager from Nawng Kaw Gyi in Hsipaw Township said that the fighting occurred near the neighboring community of Lon Waing on the morning of January 16.
“Clashes occur almost everyday. I am not clear whether it’s one-sided shooting or two sides exchanging fire with one another,” the individual told NMG. “We heard sound of guns shooting this morning, coming from Kong Sawt and Lon Waing villages located between Hsipaw and Nam Lan.”
A worker with the Hsipaw-based organization Volunteers Without Borders, Ko Myo, said that the shooting began at around 7:00 a.m. and lasted for four hours. He added that villagers left Lon Waing on foot, by motorbike, and in trucks.
“We picked up nearly 30 villagers and sent them to Ner Kang monastery,” Ko Myo said. Others went to stay with relatives.
Locals said that the RCSS/SSA and SSPP/SSA have engaged in clashes along the Hsipaw-Nam Lan road since January 4.
“There is military tension and shooting at each other from January 4 until today,” said Sai Naw Seng, who lives in Nam Lan.
Around 700 internally displaced people (IDPs) have taken refuge in Hsipaw’s Ner Makhaw monastery because of the ongoing fighting. In total, 1,500 locals have fled their homes this month.
“On January 4, over 1,400 arrived at monastery. After that, they returned home. Then they fled from their villages again,” Ko Myo explained, adding that new IDPs continue to arrive, and are staying in Ner Makhaw, Nawng Kaw Gyi and Lun Kar villages.
“The major necessity for them is food,” Ko Myo said.
The RCSS/SSA-run social media page “Tai Freedom” reported that the SSPP/SSA forces attacked them in Hsipaw Township on January 16.
The SSPP/SSA’s social media page also reported in Shan language that more than 200 RCSS troops from three military columns attacked SSPP/SSA forces in Hsipaw Township.
Casualties from both sides remain unknown.
Members of the Shan community sent a petition letter with more than 4,000 signatures to the Shan armed forces in late 2018 calling for an end to armed conflict between the RCSS and SSPP.