After an exchange of fire between their armies, leaders of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation (PNLO) have agreed to resolve the incident in southern Shan State “peacefully”.
RCSS spokesperson Maj Kham San called it an “engagement” rather than a “clash” and said both sides were communicating with each other.
He said RCSS and the PNLO’s armed wing, the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA), were suddenly involved in a 30-minute firefight in the Kadu Gyi (Guang Tu Lung – in shan language)area of Mawkmai Township when RCSS soldiers were on patrol on 16 February. After they withdrew, the shooting stopped. The RCSS spokesperson couldn’t say if there were any fatalities.
According to PNLO vice chair Khun Myint Tun, the RCSS troops arrived unannounced near Yan Kin Nee village and opened fire on their Pa-O soldiers standing guard. He said both sides had signed an agreement in 2017 to resolve all issues peacefully and would do so, adding that his military leaders were negotiating with the RCSS over the matter. Both ethnic armed organisations signed the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the former government and the military.
After splitting from the Shan State Nationalities People’s Liberation Organisation (SSPLO) in 2007, when SSPLO was ordered by the Burma Army to become a border guard force, the PNLO moved into RCSS-controlled areas along the Thai border.
Wednesday’s ‘engagement’, however, was not the first time the two sides have fought in the area. The RCSS is also fighting the Shan State Progress Party for areas in southern and northern Shan State and also against the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in the north.