More than 280 people fled their homes after clashes broke out between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the Mongpaw region of Muse Township in northern Shan State over the weekend.
The fighting happened near Man Kawng village, five miles from Mongpaw. The residents of the village have sought refuge in a church in Nam Hkawng village, locals said.
According to Mongpaw resident Ester, the fighting started on September 11, and military tension remains high in the area.
“Clashes occurred on September 11 and 12. They resumed clashes at around 2:00 p.m. today,” she told SHAN on Monday. “A total of 282 IDPs [internally displaced persons] need food, shelter and medicine.”
The IDPs remain unable to return to Man Kawng because of the fear that fighting will reignite, Ester said.
“The election is coming. We are afraid clashes will intensify in the area. Burmese soldiers are staying on the hill. That’s why we are so worried,” she said, referring to a landmark next to Man Kawng.
Burma also has a general election scheduled for November 8, and the campaign period started last week.
KIA spokesperson Col Naw Bu confirmed that clashes between Kachin and government forces lasted for two consecutive days and that the standoff in Mongpaw continues.
On August 24, the Burma Army extended its unilateral ceasefire declaration until September 30, citing the need to control the spread of COVID-19. However, the declaration does not apply in areas where “terrorist” organizations are deemed to be present, effectively excluding any area where the Arakan Army (AA) operates, since the government designated it a terrorist group. The AA, like the KIA, is a member of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed organizations.
Col Naw Bu questioned why the military extended the ceasefire declaration and then increased troop numbers in Mongpaw, where the KIA’s Battalion 36 under Brigade 6 is based.
“I don’t exactly know whether it is related to the election. They already announced that they would stop military operations. Now they have military movements in our area,” the KIA said of the Burma Army.
Another Northern Alliance member, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, reported that they had clashes with the Burma Army near Wan Khon village in Tangyan Township in northern Shan State on September 13, and another clash near Metmang village in Pong Htun village-tract in Lashio Township on the same day.