Six civilians, including an infant less than a year old, several other children, and an elderly man, were injured when fighting broke out between regime troops and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) near Namkham.
Locals told SHAN that four Burma Army (BA) soldiers were killed and another seriously injured in the fighting, which occurred Wednesday morning near a football field about a mile outside the town in northern Shan State. They heard gunfire and shelling that destroyed some houses, but couldn’t say how many houses were destroyed. The children and senior citizen are being treated at Namkham Public Hospital for their injuries.
A day earlier, BA shot dead two TNLA soldiers collecting taxes in Myoma market, which locals believe was related to Wednesday’s clashes. Another source told SHAN that the Ta’ang soldiers had come to town in uniform.
A few weeks ago, SHAN reported that the TNLA planned to collect taxes from Namkham market vendors. Many who said they could not afford to pay the armed ethnic group closed their stores.
A businessman told SHAN that the TNLA had invited business owners in the township, including representatives of the local regime, to a meeting in Ho Ner village in November. The Ta’ang soldiers told them that they would be expected to start paying them annual taxes depending on the size of their business, but usually ranging from 1 million kyats ($600) to 10 million kyats ($6K).
Last month, TNLA spokesperson Lt-Col Mai Aik Kyaw dismissed accusations that they charge more than people can pay. ”We will not cause trouble for the people,” he said, pointing out that they have already been collecting taxes every year in the township and wherever their troops are stationed.
“Today, there are few people in the Namkham market. I think people are still afraid of the clashes,” a local said Thursday.