RANGOON — Two civilians were killed and at least 10 children were wounded as fighting broke out over the weekend between government troops and rebels in northern Shan State, according to an ethnic Palaung armed group.
Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) deputy spokesman Tar Parn La told The Irrawaddy that there were four clashes across Saturday and Sunday around Mang Poe village, in the western part of Namkham Township.
He said two people were killed on Saturday, including a woman aged over 70 who was found dead at her house and is thought to have died from the shock of artillery landing nearby. The woman was disabled and unable to flee the fighting along with her family, he said.
The other victim was a 50-year-old man who was hit by an artillery shell, the spokesman said.
“More than 10 children were wounded from artillery and two people were killed. Within 16 hours, we had clashes four times with them [government troops]. Our troops were based at a remote site away from the village, and their troops surrounded us and attacked our troops,” said Tar Parn La.
The clashes appear to have broken out when government troops heard rebel soldiers were in Mang Poe village. Tar Parn La said TNLA troops went to the village to talk to local people about the group’s opium eradication policy, since the village is known as a site of poppy cultivation.
Mang Poe has about 400 houses. More than 100 people have fled to a nearby Buddhist monastery to avoid the fighting. Others have fled into the jungle or to stay with relatives, according to Tar Parn La.
Casualties on the government side from the clashes are unknown, but the TNLA last week said it had killed 178 Burma Army troops in more than 100 clashes since January.
The TNLA—along with the larger Kachin Independence Army—does not currently have a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government. Government negotiators have been attempting to reach a nationwide ceasefire agreement with all of Burma’s ethnic armed groups, but efforts have been marred by frequent reoccurrences of fighting in northern Burma.