Aid needed for villagers displaced by clashes in northern Shan State

Around 2,000 civilians are in need of food and accommodation after fleeing recent clashes between the military and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan State, sources assisting the displaced communities said.

The displaced civilians inhabited eight villages located in Muse and Kutkai townships, where fierce fighting between the Myanmar Army and TNLA–an ethnic armed organisation–has been reported since Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the TNLA, battles broke out in three places in the two townships on Tuesday alone, followed by junta airstrikes in retaliation for the assaults by the ethnic armed group. 

The TNLA claimed that on that day, a column of around 100 junta soldiers belonging to Light Infantry Battalions (LIB) 420 and 417—part of the notorious Light Infantry Division (LID) 99—and members of the pro-junta Namhkam Myoma militia group approached Loi Tan Mein hill, where the TNLA has a base. 

The junta’s advance set off fighting near the villages of Nar Htan and Seilant in Muse Township, the statement said.

As a diversion, TNLA members attacked other military units occupying the town of Muse in the morning and a base established inside Seilant in the evening, according to the group’s statement. Around 5:40pm on Tuesday, a junta jet carried out an airstrike, dropping eight bombs near the site of battle in Seilant, the TNLA said.

“We were fighting all night, till 1am this morning. I haven’t slept till now. We haven’t been able to seize their base yet,” a TNLA member involved in the battle told Myanmar Now on Wednesday.

At least ten houses were destroyed, and a man was injured by artillery shelling, the TNLA member said.

The military has been stationed in Seilant for about a month, during which TNLA forces have made repeated attempts to take over. Due to the fighting, all of Seilant’s civilian residents have fled the village and have been staying at temporary shelters in Muse as well as in nearby villages in Namkhan Township.

Community-based social welfare groups are assisting the displaced villagers at the temporary shelters. Volunteers told Myanmar Now they are in need of food supplies and other necessities.

“The number of displaced people is increasing, so there’s not enough rice, bedsheets, or blankets. They still need a lot of help,” said a volunteer who asked not to be named due to security concerns.

He added that the displaced villagers would not be able to return home as both army and anti-junta forces continued to carry out combat operations near Seilant.  

There were additional reports of fighting between the TNLA and junta forces near the village of Hko Mone, Kutkai Township around 11am on Tuesday, which started when another junta column advanced into an area where the TNLA forces were active. 

In response, TNLA forces attacked junta outposts in Nam Hpat Kar village north of Hko Mone around 6pm.

The junta forces continued their advance into Hko Mone the next day, fighting the TNLA at the same time. Shrapnel from an exploding shell killed a woman in Nam Hpat Kar on Wednesday, with the TNLA and the Myanmar army each assigning responsibility to the other for her death in public statements the next day.

According to TNLA spokespersons, a total of 21 battles with junta forces have been reported in the month of August.

Myanmar Now News