Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township returned to their homes on Friday evening after fleeing clashes between the Burma Army and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) two days earlier.
The forces fought between Nar Oong and Pang Moong villages at around 4:00 p.m. on July 22, and some 300 locals from Nar Oong fled, seeking refuge in a monastery in nearby Song Kae for two nights.
“We are afraid that clashes will occur again in our area. We had to return home because some people didn’t lock the doors to their homes. We fled when we heard the sound of guns firing,” Loong Aw, an IDP from Nar Oong, told SHAN.
Fighting has since stopped, but locals remain on alert.
“Military columns from the Burma Army remain deployed around our village. Even though we were afraid, we had to return home,” Loong Aw said, adding that they had to take care of their farms.
When the fighting started on July 22, the villagers were tending to their crops.
“We dropped our paddy plants and fled from the paddy fields when we heard the sound of gunfire. We could not bring anything with us,” Loong Aw said.
Soung Kye, where the villagers ran to, is some six miles from Nar Oong, but the route is difficult to travel in the rainy season.
“It took time to reach their village, because the road is full of mud. It took at least three hours to reach Nar Oong village [from Song Kae],” Sai Lao Murng, who was helping the IDPs in the monastery, told SHAN.
Song Kae villagers and Hsipaw Township parliamentarians provided assistance to the people who fled Nar Oong.
“When we arrived here, the villagers gave us eggs and instant noodles. Later on, parliamentarians gave 200,000 kyat (nearly US$150) for IDPs. We have many difficulties here. We have children too,” an internally displaced woman told SHAN.
A pregnant woman from Nar Oong gave birth to a baby on July 22 once she arrived in Song Kae and is currently recovering in a local hospital, according to Sai Lao Murng.
The fighting between the Burma Army and the SSPP happened about three miles from the road out of Nar Oong. The area has not recently had clashes between the two forces, locals said. The SSPP is a signatory to a state-level bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Burma Army. The organization is not a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and military