An official in the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) reported a Burma Army attack from the air near their headquarters in Wan Hai, in central Shan State’s Kesi Township, at 10 a.m. this morning.
The source said three helicopters from Military Operation Command No. 2—known locally as Za Ka Ka—dropped bombs on the outskirts of Wan Hai. At the time of reporting, it could not be confirmed if anyone was injured or killed in the attack, which is allegedly ongoing.
When SHAN contacted SSPP/SSA-N representative Lt.-Col. Sai Kham Htee for further information, the sound of rapid gunfire interrupted the conversation over the phone.
“I can’t talk now—they are bombing us,” he said before the line cut.
The incident was allegedly a continuation of shelling and shooting in neighboring Mong Hsu Township and Kesi’s Mong Nong sub-township, which began last night.
“Yesterday the Burma Army soldiers came into the village and shot guns into the houses. They have continued it today. Now we are saying in a bunker,” said Sai Awn, one of the locals who is now in hiding. It is standard practice for Shan villagers in conflict zones to build underground bunkers to which they can flee when fighting erupts.
Today’s attack occurred two days after Burma’s November 8 national election.
“This kind of action makes the people not want to pay attention to the election results,” said Sai Lek, a spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD). “It will create a problem for unity amongst the ethnic groups and also for building a nation.”
No parties were able to contest the election in Kesi and Mong Hsu, where the Union Election Commission (UEC) cancelled voting, claiming that the ongoing conflict created unfavorable conditions for polling to take place.
Fighting in central Shan State has been ongoing since October 6. Near the end of last month, civilians evacuated Wan Hai due to shelling by government forces, adding to the 6,000 civilians now displaced in the region. Most are staying in monasteries and temporary shelters with little aid. Last week, SHAN also reported that schools have been closed in the conflict areas.
“Students cannot go to school. On the street it is very quiet. Everyone stays in their houses,” said Mong Hsu resident Nang Kham.
This is the second incident of military violence in central Shan State reported in as many days; yesterday, while leaving their farmland, two civilians—including one child—were shot by Burma Army soldiers in Mong Nong, Kesi Township.
By SIMMA FRANCIS / (Shan Herald Agency for News / S.H.A.N)
Reporting by SAI YIPHONG / (Shan Herald Agency for News / S.H.A.N)