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Fighting Intensifies in Myanmar’s Northern Shan State

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Fighting between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan State broke out on Monday, January 4.

Maj Kham San, RCSS spokesperson, told media that they fought Ta’ang soldiers in Tawt San Ywa Ma village, Kyaukme Township. Both groups have sent in reinforcement troops.

The RCSS spokesperson said there’s already been five incidents of fighting in January. The Shan ethnic armed organization (EAO) counted eleven clashes in December.

A civilian told SHAN that villagers were hiding in their houses when the evening battle erupted today. He heard that both sides suffered casualties.

SHAN couldn’t reach the TNLA spokesperson for comment today. But the Ta’ang EAO recently reported fighting with RCSS at Namtu, Hsipaw and Kyaukme townships on January 1.

Villagers told SHAN there was fighting near Kun Hauk village, in Hispaw Township, and in Namtu Township on January 2.

Violence between the EAOs resumed at the beginning of December and nearly one-thousand villagers remain displaced by the conflict. At least three women, one of which is pregnant, and a male teenager were wounded during clashes that broke out on December 10.

After the RCSS signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government and Burma Army in late 2015, hostilities began with TNLA in northern Shan State.

The TNLA is not a signatory to NCA but there’s been discussions about reviving negotiations on a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government along with other member groups from the Northern Alliance.

Internal conflict in Shan State

The internal conflict in Myanmar is a series of insurgencies in Myanmar that began shortly after the country, then known as Burma, gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. The conflict has largely been ethnic-based, with several ethnic armed groups fighting Myanmar’s armed forces, the Tatmadaw, for self-determination.

Despite numerous ceasefires and the creation of autonomous self-administered zones in 2008, many groups continue to call for independence, increased autonomy, or the federalization of the country. The conflict is also the world’s longest ongoing civil war, having spanned more than seven decades

The Shan State Army was one of the largest insurgent groups that fought government forces in Shan State, Myanmar (Burma). The SSA was founded in 1964 after the merging of two existing insurgent groups.

The SSA recruited and trained thousands of local Shan people to join their ranks. Although their initial purpose was to fight for autonomy in Shan State, their battle had extended to fighting against the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), Kuomintang soldiers sponsored by the CIA in Myanmar, and opium smugglers in Shan State.

The SSA however, could not fulfill its goals, and in 1976 it dissolved. It would later become the basis for the Shan State Army – North and the Shan State Army – South, but the SSA was not directly linked to either group.

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