RCSS/SSA-S and TNLA trade trespassing accusations as clashes continue in northern Shan State

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Clashes between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army/Palaung State Liberation Front (TNLA/PSLF) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S) continued this morning as both sides accused one another of trespassing into the other’s territory.

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Fighting between the two armed groups first broke out last year on November 27, just over one month after the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on October 15 between the government and eight of the country’s more than 20 ethnic armed groups. RCSS/SSA-S was among the signatories, but the TNLA was excluded by the government from signing.

“There was another episode of fighting which occurred this morning,” said Sai Hseng Murng, the spokesperson for RCSS/SSA-S. “Until now the fighting has not stopped.”

He claimed that the TNLA troops had attacked them and were advancing further into area controlled by RCSS/SSA-S every day.

The TNLA/PSLF Information Department posted on their Facebook page on January 18 that fighting had broken out between TNLA Battalion No. 256 and RCSS/SSA-S troops, but claimed that it was due to the RCSS/SSA-S troops trespassing into territory under TNLA control.

“The RCSS troops entered our area,” said the TNLA on social media. “That’s why the fighting happened.”

According to a Mizzima report today, Mai Aik Kyaw, a spokesperson for the TNLA, said that the RCSS/SSA-S was not previously operating in the disputed area, but had arrived in the middle of November and was now fighting alongside Burma Army troops. He described the atmosphere as “tense” and predicted there could be future clashes.

The RCSS/SSA-S claimed that three TNLA soldiers had been killed in the recent clashes. No further details were available about the casualties.

On Monday, fighting between the groups occurred twice in northern cities of Shan State. The first incident was in Koong Hawd village, Hsipaw Township, and another episode occurred in Tawsang village, Kyaukme Township.

Sai Hseng Murng told SHAN that the RCSS/SSA-S has sent letters to TNLA several times requesting a meeting to discuss the conflict.

“A few days ago, we sent them a letter again,” said Sai Hseng Murng. “But we never received a response from them about the talks.”

“We [ethnic groups] don’t want to have problem among each other,” he added.

On December 16, SHAN reported that the RCSS/SSA-S held a meeting with the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of ethnic armed groups of which the TNLA is a member, to discuss the clashes between the RCSS/SSA-S and the TNLA.

By SAI AW / Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)

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