Hundreds of Villagers Flee Rising Tension Between RCSS and Northern Alliance in Namtu

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Nearly 600 people are displaced after hearing shots fired in the northern Shan State township.

Hundreds of villagers in northern Shan State’s Namtu Township fled their homes on Wednesday after shots were reportedly fired between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and forces belonging to the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups.

Shan Nationalities League for Democracy party secretary for Hsipaw Sai Lao Seng told SHAN that around 580 displaced people from eight communities in Panglong village tract are now staying at two monasteries—in Namtu and Hsipaw—after “hearing the sound of gunshots” nearby.

“They are so worried that there will be an expansion of large, intense battles in their area,” he said, adding that civil society organizations and volunteer groups were helping the internally displaced people.

One 70-year-old woman who is now staying at a monastery in Hsipaw said that she was only able to flee with the help of a local vehicle, because she couldn’t run.

“I heard the sound of guns shooting while I was cooking at home. Then we fled. We couldn’t eat. My grandchild and I ran to the house which had a vehicle,” she said.

The Namtu area is home to multiple armed groups and clashes have become frequent over the last year. Government forces, the RCSS/SSA, and members of the Northern Alliance—which includes the Arakan Army, the Kachin Independence Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army—are also active in the area.

The RCSS/SSA signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and military in 2015; the members of the Northern Alliance have opted not to sign.

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