Fatal Clashes Break Out Between Tatmadaw, TNLA in Kutkai
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
October 17, 2019
The Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) fought in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township on Wednesday, leading to casualties on both sides, according to locals and the TNLA.
A military column made up of troops from the Tatmadaw’s Light Infantry Battalion 15 and Light Infantry Division 99 clashed with TNLA forces between Mang Sap and Nawng Peik villages in at around 6:00 a.m. on October 16. According to a TNLA field report, three Burma army soldiers were killed and one injured, while one TNLA soldier was killed and one injured.
NMG tried to call the Burma Army’s True News Information Team to confirm the casualties but received no response.
“We heard the sound of shells landing around the clash location. Both sides shot at each other. The clash location is not far from the town… They exchanged gunfire for at least one hour,” a Kutkai local told NMG.
Villagers around the area of fighting fled and sought refuge in Ward 2 of Kutkai town.
A resident of Mang Sap village said he thought the fighting lasted until 7:30 a.m. and that at the time of reporting it had stopped.
“I heard the sound of heavy and small weapons firing. I didn’t know which armed organization opened fire with the heavy weapons. Nobody was hurt in our village. Some people have fled to Kutkai, but some people already came back to village. Mothers and children have yet to return to the village,” the individual told NMG.
The Kutkai local said that people with disabilities—including children—hid in a bunker during the clash.
“There are schools for disabled people located near the clash location. Therefore, these children came to hide in the bunker,” the local explained.
Authorities had blocked travel to Kutkai town during the clash roads were reopened after the clash.
The TNLA reportedly ambushed the Burma Army’s military convoy in downtown Hsenwi in northern Shan state on October 9. At least two Burma Army soldiers were allegedly killed in the attack.
Shells landed on civilian houses in fighting that unfolded and at least seven locals were injured.
Likewise, shells landed in Mang Awng village in Kutkai Township and Hsenwi town on October 11 and at least five civilians were injured.
Even though the government, Burma Army and members of the Northern Alliance have held peace negotiations, clashes are still ongoing in northern Shan State, and locals report living with fear of continued armed conflict.