Saturday, June 22, 2024

Tensions between TNLA and SSPP Flare up Again in Shan State

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The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), a Palaung ethnic armed organization, seized weapons from Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) troops deployed in Namkham Township in southern Shan State, and transported them to Muse Township in northern Shan State by a convoy of cars.

Starting at 9:00 am on May 27, TNLA forces encircled SSPP troops deployed in villages along the Ruili (Shweli) River in Namkham, confiscated their weapons, and then transported the unarmed troops in a convoy to Manhlyoe town in Muse Township, according to locals.

“The TNLA surrounded and blockaded each village where SSPP troops were present.

They confiscated the weapons from SSPP troops and forced them into cars, with not a single shot fired during the incident. Each village with SSPP deployment was handled with a similar tactic by TNLA. Palaung soldiers (TNLA) loaded the SSPP troops into cars at gunpoint”, a 50-year-old witness from Namkham told SHAN.

In recent days, TNLA forces from Mantong, Kutkai, and Namphakka have been redeployed to reinforce Namkham. On May 27, SSPP troops from the villages of Manthawng, Nawngmalong, Nawngting, Nawngkham, and Kunhai in Namkham had their weapons seized by TNLA and were sent to Muse in a convoy of at least 10 vehicles.

In Nawnghkam village, situated on the China-Myanmar border, both SSPP and TNLA forces were stationed closely until the early morning of May 27. Locals reported that due to blockades associated with these deployments, the ferry piers used for trade were temporarily closed, resulting in the cessation of trade operations.

“Nawngkham village shares its border with Nawngtawng on the Chinese side. At the border checkpoint, both SSPP and TNLA troops were stationed, separated by a fence. Following TNLA reinforcements in Namkham, a new fence was erected between Kunhai and Nawngkham villages. Although SSPP troops were predominantly stationed in Kunhai, the fence hindered their movement between the two villages”, a Namkham resident said.

The SHAN is currently investigating to confirm whether the TNLA permanently confiscated the weapons from the SSPP troops or returned these arms to them when they were transported in a convoy to Muse.

“Since early April, we have been hearing that TNLA told SSPP troops to leave, but they stayed until May, still deployed in Namkham. We are not sure what is happening behind the scenes but this is not just happening in Namkham. SSPP troops also withdrew from Hsenwi, Kutkai, and Panghseng”, a local military source told SHAN.

SHAN’s efforts to reach SSPP spokesperson Colonel Sai Su and TNLA Information Department regarding reports of TNLA seizing weapons from SSPP troops and compelling them to depart Namkham, were unsuccessful.

Back in early March, tensions flared between TNLA and SSPP over tax collection at the Nawngtawng border checkpoint, prompting both sides to close the border gates.

TNLA also sent a message on January 21, informing SSPP not to recruit new soldiers or engage in military, administrative, or tax collection activities in Namkham, an area under TNLA control.

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