TNLA Reports Capturing Burma Army Weapons in Kutkai Clash

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) reported that it captured weapons from a Burma Army military column following a clash in northern Shan State on Friday.

The fighting, which happened near Namkut village in Kutkai Township, occurred despite both sides making unilateral ceasefire declarations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At least 10 military vehicles from the Burma Army’s convoy went to Kutkai from Muse at around 10:00 a.m. today,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw, who is in charge of the TNLA’s information department, told NMG on Friday. “When our troops passed the highway, the two forces changed gunfire.”

He said that the clash lasted until around 11:30 a.m.

“A military vehicle was hit by our mortar shell. The vehicle burned,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw said. “We captured some weapons, ammunition and equipment, including 60-millimeter mortar shells and some small arms.”

There were no casualties on the TNLA side, he added.

The office of the Burma Army’s commander-in-chief posted on its website that some 80 TNLA soldiers “ambushed” the Burma Army’s military convoy 1,500 meters north of Namkut and that soldiers, including an officer, were injured and a vehicle damaged.

Travels were temporarily halted in the area because of the fighting.

“They had clashes at two to three locations on the road near Namkut village. The clash started at around 10:00 a.m. and went until 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. I heard sound of guns firing until the evening. All people and vehicles had to stop traveling until the evening,” a Kutkai local told NMG.

On May 9, the Burma Army declared a unilateral ceasefire lasting until August 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that applied nationwide except in territory where so-called “terrorist” groups are operating.

The Arakan Army (AA), which is a member of the Brotherhood Alliance along with the TNLA and the Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, was labeled a terrorist organization by the government on March 23. The alliance declared their own ceasefire for the month of May on May 3.

“If the Burma Army stayed in their base camps, there would be no clashes,” a Namphetka local said on the condition of anonymity. “Even though they have declared ceasefires, they repeatedly shot at each other. Even though they have declared ceasefires, the clashes didn’t stop. So people do not want to believe them. In the name of the ceasefire, they have extended their military strength, so clashes don’t stop.”

The local said that the ongoing pandemic creates another layer of fear amid the fighting.

“Now we are facing two battles, COVID-19 and clashes. Perhaps the Burma Army will escalate the clashes. We are so worried about it,” the local told NMG, adding that people in the area are carrying “many burdens.”

Since the unilateral ceasefire declarations, the Burma Army and the TNLA clashed in Mangton and Namkham townships in northern Shan State on May 4 and 5, and in Mogok Township in Mandalay Region on May 13.