Monday, May 20, 2024

Tensions Rising in Hsenwi Township

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Fighting broke out between troops of the State Administration Council (SAC) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) after soldiers from the former group reportedly crossed the latter’s line in Hsenwi Township, located in northern Shan State.

According to a local source who requested anonymity due to security concerns, the groups exchanged fire with light and heavy weapons for about 10 minutes in Kun Kok village-tract on Thursday at 1 pm.

“The Burma army’s troops crossed the Namtu River and entered SSPP’s territory. Before the shooting started, SSPP soldiers informed the Burma army of their position, warning them to halt their advance.” The altercation finally came to an end after SAC troops retreated from the area, the source said.

SHAN made repeated efforts to reach SSPP/SSA’s spokesperson, but there’s been no response by press time.

SSPP/SSA soldiers perform martial arts Photo SSPP Info
SSPP/SSA soldiers perform martial arts. Photo: SSPP Info.

Other anonymous sources suspected that the junta troops were deployed to stop the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), who are also in the village-tract collecting taxes from motorists. A 30-year-old man mentioned that there’s a KIA column stationed near a monastery in the village of Kun Kok, demanding money from small and large trucks. He explained that the Kachin soldiers are charging each truck an annual fee of $477.

According to reports from locals, tensions between the KIA and the SSPP/SSA have also escalated. Although the groups aren’t actively fighting at this time, they’re reportedly facing off in the township in Lashio District.

Meanwhile, SAC clashed with KIA in the area on 16 September, causing over 60 locals to seek safety from the violence. On Friday, after the KIA deployed more troops, additional villagers fled from the township and from Jay Ou village-tract.

“Nearly 300 people fled from their villages to a safe area before the clash broke out,” said the 30-year-old. He mentioned that 100 have taken shelter in the Fai Kham Buddhist monastery, and others are staying with relatives in Hsenwi town.

The KIA and SAC troops are stationed near Tang Khan, Nawng Mun, Kun Kok, and Peing Hung, according to local estimates. There’s 400 KIA troops in Kun Kok village-tract and in the nearby Sel Ou village-tract, there are 200 from SAC.

Aik Sai, using a pseudonym, mentioned that SAC frequently shells the area from its Nam Salap camp, which is close to the KIA’s camp.

“KIA troops have already informed villagers that if the Burma army column arrived near Kun Kok village, they would retreat, promising them they wouldn’t engage in conflict near civilian villages.”

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