Two Burmese military columns fired both small and heavy weaponry into Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) territory in Kyaukme Township in northern Shan State this week, according to local and RCSS sources, who described the shooting as “one-sided.”
The Burma Army troops reportedly came into Nerpon village from two directions on the morning of September 30; one arrived after passing through Kywekon and Nawng Pein Oun villages, and another entered the area through the community of Kawng Hong.
From there, locals said that they fired guns and artillery into RCSS territory some five to six miles northeast of Kyaukme town.
“A military column of government forces came from Kywekon at around 7:00 a.m. today. Another military column came from Kawng Hong. Then they fired both small and heavy weapons in different directions from Nerpon village. I didn’t hear the RCSS fire,” a local, who lives in Nawngpein village, told SHAN on Wednesday.
On September 29, the Burma Army extended its unilateral ceasefire declaration through October. The declaration is understood as applying across the country except areas where the Arakan Army is active. It is the third such extension.
“It was one-sided firing by the Burma Army. They are shooting into the jungle. They did not directly attack our camp. Therefore, we did not respond to them by firing,” a frontline RCSS officer told SHAN.
A villager in Nerpon told SHAN that tension in the area was high.
“We have not been able to decide whether we should flee. We are still waiting to see what happens with the situation,” the villager explained.
Kyaukme parliamentarian Sai Tun Win said there were three reasons to explain the increase of Burmese troops in the area.
“First, they came here under the order of a higher command. Second, they came here to investigate the murder of a civilian in June. Third, they came here for the election,” the MP told SHAN, referring to Burma’s general election scheduled for November 8.
Combined forces from Infantry Battalions 22, 23, 101, 147, 256, 136 and Light Infantry Battalion 503 attacked RCSS troops in Kyaukme between June 25 and July 21. According to the RCSS, they had at least 20 clashes with the Burma Army the township during this time.
One villager was shot dead, another suffered gunshot injuries, and another was beaten by Burma Army soldiers during the period of fighting in Kyaukme.
Nearly 10,000 local people protested the Burma Army following the civilian death, calling for justice for victims of military abuses. At the time of reporting, no perpetrators are known to have been arrested.