Burma Army, TNLA Clash At Least Six Times in May

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Representatives of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) said that they had at least six clashes with the Burma Army in northern Shan State last month.

Two of those battles occurred near Nam Oum village in Muse Township on May 31.

“We had two clashes yesterday. We had six clashes in May,” TNLA spokesperson Maj Mai Aik Kyaw told NMG on Monday. “Clashes occurred before and after the Burma Army announced a unilateral ceasefire.”

According to the TNLA, the clashes on Sunday occurred near the village of Nam Oum and near a sugar factory outside the village.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw accused the Burma Army of opening fire at the location of the clashes using artillery.

“Villagers told me that the Burma Army opened fire with artillery from Namphetka. There were two days of clashes in our area. Clash occurred between Kutkai and Namphetka the day before yesterday,” a local from Namphetka explained, adding that there was no fighting in nearby Namphetka. “When clashes continue in our area, local people are so worried about it. We are afraid of both the virus and the clashes at the same time,” the individual added, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Burma Army and the TNLA had clashes near Namkut village between Kutkai and Namphetka on May 29. According to the TNLA, they captured weapons from the government forces after this battle.

Traveling was temporarily stopped between Kutkai and Muse because of the fighting near Namkut.

“We received a report that a military convoy was ambushed in northern Shan State the day before yesterday,” President’s Office spokesperson Zaw Htay said in online press conference on May 3. Of the TNLA, he said, “they should not attack us by taking advantage of the ceasefire announcement.”

He recommended that they contact the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center if they wished to hold talks.

“To stop the war, we have to solve this problem peacefully by discussion and negotiation. The government has invited them. If they don’t participate and launch attacks, one side can not stop the war. Now one side has already stopped but other side doesn’t stop. Therefore, clashes will continue, he said.

The Burma Army and the Brotherhood Alliance—which includes the TNLA, Arakan Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—have declared their own unilateral ceasefires.
Yet Maj Mai Aik Kyaw accused the Burma Army of not halting military offensives in northern Shan State despite declaring a ceasefire earlier in May during the COVID-19 pandemic, and blamed this for the ongoing fighting.

“Even though they announced a unilateral ceasefire in the media, in practice they do not stop military offensives on the ground,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything. That’s why clashes occur. We have no choice. They need to follow their ceasefire announcement. They need to decrease their military offensives.”

He added that clashes occur when the Burma Army breaches TNLA territory, not the other way around.

“We don’t go to attack them. If they come into our territory, we have to defend it,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw said.

The Burma Army and the TNLA also clashed in Mandalay Region’s Mogok Township on May 13, and on May 4 and 5 in Mangton and Namkham townships in northern Shan State.