‘The army has launched offensive operations in our area. Clashes have become more intensified. Our movement area is getting narrower,’ a TNLA spokesperson said.
Joint forces belonging to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA) claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks on five military-controlled locations on Thursday in Mandalay and Nawng Khio in Shan State on Thursday morning.
TNLA spokesperson Tar Aik Kyaw said that the forces—all members of the Northern Alliance—were retaliating for ongoing military operations against them in the territory under their control, despite calls for the Tatmadaw to cease its activities there.
“The army has launched offensive operations in our area. Clashes have become more intensified. Our movement area is getting narrower. Therefore, we launched counter defensive operations,” Tar Aik Kyaw said to SHAN. “Our forces attacked the DSTA (Defense Services Technological Academy) and a toll gate in Pyin Oo Lwin. Our forces also attacked another toll gate, near Gokteik bridge and Lauhpan in Nawng Cho (Nawng Khio).”
One person was killed and one injured in the attack on the DSTA; local reports indicated that there had been casualties in Nawng Khio as well, although numbers could not be confirmed at the time of reporting.
“Clashes are ongoing near Asia World’s tollgate,” local Sai Aung Lwin, a member of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy in Nawng Khio, told SHAN, referring to a checkpoint in Nawng Khio.
The joint ethnic armed forces attacked this tollgate, belonging to a company—the Asia World Group—described by the recent UN Fact Finding Mission report on the economic interests of the Burma Army as among the country’s “largest crony companies.”
Other sites targeted in Shan State were a drug checkpoint, which the joint forces burned down, and the Nawng Khio-Goktwin Bridge.
Sai Aung Lwin told SHAN that he visited the local hospital on Thursday and saw around 15 people seeking treatment after being injured in the clashes.
“Some people are still trapped there. I don’t now the exact number of casualties. People were afraid after they heard the sound of guns shooting while they were in the hospital,” he told SHAN.
He added that a friend of his, who owns a shop near the Asia World tollgate, was injured in the fighting.
“My friend was shot and injured this morning. He is now receiving medical treatment in Nawng Cho hospital. Nobody dares to go outside from home in Nawng Cho,” Sai Aung Lwin said.
The Burma Army has carried out attacks on the TNLA and the Shan State Progress Party in northern Shan State since early August, despite initiating a unilateral ceasefire in the region lasting until August 31.