Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Clashes Escalating in Panglong and Paikhun Townships

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Fighting in Soung Pyoung village of Panglong (ပၢင်လွင်း) Township in southern Shan State continues to escalate as the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and allied forces engage in frequent gun battles with Burma army and local militias. Up to 10,000 local people have been displaced in Panglong Township over the past 10 days.

Local people said that there have been armed clashes in Panglong Township since 10 March when the Burma army and Pa-O People’s Militia Force (Pa-O PMF), previously known as the Pa-O National Army, launched offensive operations against resistance groups in the border between Panglong and Paikhun Townships.

The fighting has been intense in Soung Pyoung village, which is situated on the Panglong–Paikhun road approximately 20 miles from Panglong town.

“Fierce clashes continue in Soung Pyoung village. Resistance groups have attempted to seize the police camp and army camp from the Burma army,” a local man, who lives in Panglong town and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, told SHAN.

Local people said that the fighting has continued to escalate in various parts of Panglong Township, even spreading to Panglong town.

“Resistance groups had recommended that local people be cautious when traveling after the end of matriculation exams. It’s true, now clashes are escalating. There was a clash in Nam Hper Mu village. Now there is fighting in Soung Pyoung village. The clash is getting closer to Panglong town. We have no place to hide. I do not know where to flee,” a 30-year-old resident of Panglong town told SHAN.

Both the Burma army and Pa-O PMF have suffered many causalities during the clashes in Panglong Township, according to local sources. SHAN has been unable to independently verify the Burma army and Pa-O PMF casualty numbers.

Local people report that the junta force and Pa-O PMF soldiers in Panglong town have been detaining local people to force them to work as porters as well as demanding money from local people through various extortion schemes.

“Soldiers from the Burma army and Pa-O PMF extort money from local people. Some people have to pay 70,000 Kyats, others 50,000 Kyats. After the Burma army started implementing the national conscription law in Panglong Township, soldiers have demanded five million Kyats per person to avoid attending military training. They are terrible. Nobody wants to live in the town with the Burma army soldiers there,” the 30-year-old resident of Panglong town told SHAN.

Meanwhile in Paikhun Township, a Burma army airstrike has destroyed a hospital and killed multiple civilians. Local people reported that on the morning of 22 March, a Burma army jet fighter attacked the hospital in La Ei village multiple times using 500 pound bombs.

SHAN has not yet been able to independently verify information about the airstrike on the hospital in La Ei village, including the number of civilian causalities and the extent of the damage to the hospital building.

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