Four ethnic armed groups released a statement on Monday, demanding a halt in civilian movement in Muse and Kutkai townships due to an intensification of hostilities in northern Shan State.
The four militias – Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) – have launched a joint military operation against Burmese government forces in the area.
“Our ethnic people are requested to stop travelling in northern Shan State because of the dangers posed by military activities,” said the statement. “Local people are also advised to take precautions, and to support this inevitable joint military exercise for the protection of all ethnic peoples.”
The groups attacked Burmese military outposts and a police station in the Muse Township villages of 105 Mile, Mong Koe and Parng Zai, as well as Namkham and Kutkai areas in the early morning yesterday.
“The Burmese armed forces have been launching offensives in the ethnic territories of Kachin, Kokang, Ta’ang, Arakan and Shan for a long time,” read the statement. “The military pressures have been mounting increasingly. The Burmese armed forces have also intensified their assaults. They are not only using 105-120mm heavy artillery to target innocent civilians, but are also arresting, torturing and killing indigenous people.”
For decades, Burma’s government forces have launched offensives and operations against ethnic armed groups.
Col. Tar Pong Kyaw, the secretary of TNLA, told The Irrawaddy on Sunday that “Ethnic groups cannot hide in the jungle any more—the time has come to fight in the towns.”
Monday’s statement also noted that the Burmese armed forces continue to attack ethnic armed groups including those that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement with the government in October 2015. The AA, MNDAA, TNLA were excluded from signing the accord.
Yesterday, it was reported that four policeman and an unknown number of civilians had been killed or wounded in the clashes.
According to a resident in the 105 Mile: “At least four police officers were shot dead.”
Meanwhile, Nang Khin Tar Yi, an MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) representing Hsenwi Township, said, “A bomb exploded on the highway between Hsenwi and Muse townships, causing injuries to three people. They are currently being treated at a local hospital.”
Local sources also told Shan Herald that they had eye-witnessed military’s jets, trucks and troops heading into Muse.
Since yesterday, villagers in close proximity to the hostilities have been fleeing their homes and seeking shelter in Muse town or across the border in China.
According to a report in this morning’s state-run press, the four ethnic armed groups also attempted to blow up three bridges into the town.
Yesterday, the Chinese embassy in Burma issued a warning to its citizens, advising against travel to the conflict areas.
“The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has been watching the situation closely, urging all parties in the conflicts to exercise restraint by taking concrete and effective measures for an immediate ceasefire so as to resume peace in the China-Myanmar border area as soon as possible,” the statement said.
“The Embassy reminds the Chinese citizens in Myanmar to watch out for their own safety by avoiding going to those conflict areas,” it added.
The consulate confirmed that many Burmese civilians had escaped the conflict by fleeing onto Chinese territory, and that the Chinese authorities have “taken in those who have crossed the border, and sent the injured ones to hospitals for medical treatment.”
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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