Army shelling near SSPP/SSA HQ endangers villagers, says NGO

Troops in Shan State. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

The Shan Human Rights Foundation has expressed concern about the danger posed by Myanmar military shelling that they claim targeted the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in Ke See township, Shan State, according to an August 14 press release.

SHRF said: “On August 7, 2015, while critical nationwide ceasefire talks were taking place in Yangon, the Burma Army fired mortar shells towards the headquarters of the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in Ke See Township, endangering over 3,700 civilians in eight villages.”

The NGO said five 120 mm shells were fired from the Myanmar Army base at Kiu Mawk Kao, about 8 kms south of the SSPP/SSA headquarters at Wan Hai. The shells landed close to the villages of Wan Parng Nar Nawng, Wan Nam Lin Long and Wan Nawng Hee, east of Wan Hai.  Fortunately no one was injured, but villagers were terrified, as they had not experienced shelling so close to their homes since the large-scale Myanmar Army offensive against the SSPP/SSA in 2011.

The shelling occurred after a clash broke out earlier in the day between Myanmar Army and SSPP/SSA troops, about 20 kms south of Wan Hai. A convoy of Myanmar  troops had run into a patrol of SSPP/SSA troops crossing a road, and both sides had opened fire.

Although the clash was spontaneous, and should have been resolved by commanding officers of the respective sides, the Myanmar Army retaliated by firing shells towards the SSPP/SSA headquarters, in the opposite direction of where the clash had taken place.

SHRF deplores this aggressive act by the Myanmar Army, which directly endangered the lives of thousands of civilians.

Since the SSPP/SSA renewed its ceasefire with the Myanmar government in January 2012, it has suffered repeated offensives by the Myanmar Army, which has surrounded and attempted to isolate the SSPP/SSA headquarter area. Currently, there are at least 17 Myanmar Army battalions surrounding the Wan Hai area, the NGO says.

SHRF urges the Myanmar Army to adhere to its ceasefire commitments, and reiterates our calls for the Myanmar government to show its sincerity towards the peace process by immediately stopping its military build-up and offensives, and pulling back its troops from the conflict areas.

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