Villagers were forced to flee fighting between Burma Army and Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in northern Shan State this Wednesday (July 22).
Civilians informed SHAN that hostilities between the armed groups occurred between Nar Ohn and Pang Moong villages in Hsipaw Township at about 4:30 p.m. Villagers sought refuge in Soung Kye Buddhist monastery.
Nang Hla Win says many were still in their paddy fields when they heard the sounds of gunfire and fled the fighting still in their working clothes. “We couldn’t bring anything with us,” she said, from the safety of the monastery.
Despite reports that fighting in the area has ended, Nang Hla Win says she isn’t planning to return home anytime soon.
Although most of the civilians made it to the Buddhist monastery, there were some villagers, mostly elderly, who remain trapped in their homes. Trucks have been sent to bring them away from where the fighting happened, Nang Hla Win says.
SSPP/SSA is active in the area, but she says there have been no previous clashes with Tatmadaw.
Sai Lao Mong, whose wife and mother-in-law sought shelter at Soung Kye monastery, also said there isn’t usually fighting in this area, located about three miles from a roadway.
Farmers, who are normally busy at this time harvesting their crops, are concerned about when they can get back to their farms.
At the same time the fighting started SSPP/SSA is discussing signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with Burma Army and the government.
Plans are also underway for the country’s general election scheduled for November 8.
SHAN called SSPP/SSA and Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team for comments, but neither responded.
In Kyaukme Township, tensions have been high between Burma Army and Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) since June 25. Fighting between the armed groups has resumed in northern Shan State in recent months.
Despite signing a state-level bi-lateral ceasefire agreement in 2012, the SSPP/SSA has clashed with Tatmadaw troops many times.