Civil society organizations in northern Shan State called on the Burma Army and the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed organizations to acknowledge the civilian toll of intensifying armed conflict in the region.
Fighting has been ongoing since August 15, with at least 17 civilians killed and 30 wounded. The Humanitarian Strategic Team-Northern Shan State (HST-NSS) said that participating actors must take responsibility for these figures.
“Civilian casualties have increased in these battles. Many vehicles were burned. In my opinion, both armed forces need a military code of conduct,” Hawng Dau, an HST-NSS spokesperson, told SHAN.
He added that forces should avoid targeting civilian cars when fighting on the Kutkai-Muse section of the highway, and warned locals against travel into the areas where fighting has been taking place.
Sai Naw Hseng, who is working with the Tai Youth Network, told SHAN that he hoped groups found to be responsible for civilian deaths would pay compensation to the victim’s surviving relatives, as well as pay for damages to homes and property.
“We request them not to open fire with heavy weapons into village if they clash. If shells land in the village, the armed group [that shot them] needs to take full responsibility for civilian casualties and physical damage,” he said.
The Burma Army and three members of the Northern Alliance—the Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army—fought near Maw Heik village in Kutkai Township on August 31. Artillery shells landed in the village and killed three women, a child, and a baby. It is unknown which armed group fired the shells in question.