Burma army clashes with KIO and its allies in Shan state

Troops from Burma's armed forces and those from the Federal Union Army (FUA), an alliance backed by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), engaged in repeated clashes in northeast Shan state earlier this month. The clashes began on October 15th and lasted for several days.

The clashes between government forces and FUA troops, who are officially under the command of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), continued in the Mung Ji area of eastern Tamonye township, Shan state, according to Zau Seng, a Kachin Baptist pastor who lives nearby.

“The clashes were in the Mung Ji area. Government forces were from Brigades 11 and 55,” Zau Seng told the Kachin News Group (KNG) during a phone interview.

The clashes resulted in three civilians being shot and wounded, according to the pastor. One of the wounded civilians was sent to Tamonye hospital while two others were sent Kutkai township hospital via Tamonye, he said.

Kachin Independence Army (KIA) brigade's No.4 and their allies from the Myanmar National Democracy Alliance Army (a faction affiliated with deposed MNDAA leadership in Kokang) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) were engaged in repeated clashes with government forces beginning on October 15thaccording to Major Zau Maw, an official from KIA 4th Brigade.

Some of the fighting took place in an area controlled by KIA Brigade 4 near the Thanlwin river that is also close to territory held by the United Wa State Army (UWSA). This territory is next to territory partially held by KIA battalion 2, 9 and 38, all of which are under the command of KIA Brigade No.4.

During 48 hours of clashes that followed the outbreak of fighting on October 15th, both the FUA alliance forces and government troops endured causalities however the government forces casualties were higher, Major Zau Maw claimed.

Troops reinforcements appear to have been dispatched to strengthen Light Infantry Division No.11 and 55 based east of Kutkai and Light Infantry Division No. 88 west of Kutkai in recent weeks. In apparent preparation for further clashes with the Kachin, Shan, Palaung and Kokang ethnic armed groups based in Shan state, KNG has learned.

Since representatives from the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and the Union-level Peace Work Committee (UPWC) met at the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in Yangon on September 22-26, relations appear to have significantly deteriorated between the government and many of the armed ethnic groups. The NCCT, which is made up of largely the armed ethnic groups as the UNFC, proposal to form a Federal Army was rejected by the government and military representatives during last month’s meeting.

Following this latest round of meetings clashes took place in Karen, Shan and Kachin states, there is a concern that the next round of talks could be postponed, according to observers. In a statement released on October 15th the UNFC called on the government forces to end their attacks on areas held by the armed groups. This request appears to have been ignored.

Lt. Col. N’hpang Naw Bu, a senior KIO representative normally based at the group's Laiza headquarters, who meets regularly with government officials, told KNG that the latest round of fighting raises serious questions about the government's desire for peace. “The government side does not want peace,” he told KNG.

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