‘Unintentional’ Clashes Break Out Between RCSS, PNLO in Southern Shan State
The PNLO’s Col Khun Okkar says that the fighting occurred because of a lack of communication channels, describing it as ‘attacking and defending.’
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Friday, October 19, 2018
Fighting occurred between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) in southern Shan State’s Mong Pan Township earlier this week, PNLO representatives said.
The battles happened on October 13 and 16, according to PNLO patron Col Khun Okkar. He alleged that 200-300 Shan soldiers were involved in the clash, but that the PNLO numbers were much smaller—around 20. The area, he said, is largely home to Pa-O villagers.
“They came to shoot at us when they heard we had arrived there. Our soldiers didn’t shoot back. We moved to another place. Then they attacked us again,” PNLO patron Col. Khun Okkar said to NMG.
Both ethnic armed organizations are signatory to Burma’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government and military. Col Khun Okkar added that the conflict between the groups was “not intentional.”
“There was no communication channel between the two forces on the ground level. That’s why our soldiers defended themselves, out of fear. They didn’t know anything. It’s just attacking and defending,” Col Khun Okkar said.
There were reported casualties in the fighting, but exact numbers from each side remain unknown.
According to Col. Khun Okkar, PNLO military camps are not stationed in the area, which is typically patrolled by RCSS/SSA forces.
NMG tried to establish contact with the RCSS/SSA to hear their side about what happened in the clashes but at the time of reporting, could not establish communication with them.
PNLO leaders say that if they are able to meet with the RCSS/SSA they will engage in negotiations after investigating this incident, adding that it is a negative sign that two NCA signatories could clash in this manner.