Maj-Gen Sao Khun Kyaw, deputy commander-in-chief of Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA), was assassinated by a gunman in Homalin Township at about 9am May 26. The Shanni leader, also called Comrade Than Chaung, died the following day. Two of Sao Khun Kyaw’s security guards were injured during the attack while SNA soldiers killed the assailant.
Sao Khun Kyaw, an ethnic Shanni, was born in Maw Han village, Mohnyin township, Kachin State. From 1988 to 1995, he was vice-chairman and chief of staff for the northern branch of All Burma Students’ Democratic Front. He joined the Restoration Council of Shan State as a central committee member from 1998 to 2006, serving as the commander of Brigade 241. Sao Khun Kyaw and other RCSS leaders established Loi Tai Leng headquarters along the border of Thailand.
In 2006, Sao Khun Kyaw and fellow soldiers marched to northern Burma to form a Shanni army. After news leaked of their plans, the Burma Army captured him the same year near Namti village, located in Namkham Township, in northern Shan State. The junta sentenced Sao Khun Kyaw to death. However, under the National League for Democracy, President Win Myint pardoned Sao Khun Kyaw on April 17, 2018. Several months after his release, SNA appointed him as second in command.