Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Separate encounters pitting the Burmese Army against armed ethnic opposition groups broke out close to the Thai-Burmese border in Shan State on October 19 and 20, according to villagers and ethnic minority media.
Troops from the Burmese Army’s 277th Light Infantry Brigade (LIB) on October 19 engaged members of an undetermined armed group to the south of Mae Ken village, Mong Tone Township, in the east of Shan State.
The clash occurred after the Burmese Army received information from a villager that members of an armed group were passing through the area. Thirty soldiers from the Burmese Army were sent to intercept the group.
The Burmese Army unit, however, was ambushed before it could reach its destination. The ensuing firefight lasted for 20 minutes before the unknown armed group retreated. One Burmese soldier was reportedly killed.
According to a Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) report, the clash was between the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and the Burmese Army.
However, Sao Lao Hseng, a spokesman for the SSA-S, said: “The SSA-S can’t confirm our involvement in the clash of October 19. We are still checking with our men in the area.”
On the following day, further hostilities were witnessed to the east of Mae Ken village between the joint forces of the 65th LIB of the Burmese Army and a Lahu militia unit led by Ja Bee Koi, and troops from the United Wa State Army (UWSA).
The incident happened when patrolling Burmese and Lahu soldiers ran into a UWSA detachment. One Lahu soldier and two UWSA fighters died in the encounter, with several others on both sides reportedly wounded.
But, according to a villager of Na Kawng Mu, Mong Tone Township, “We heard of shooting between the UWSA and the Burmese Army. Four soldiers were lost on the side of the Burmese Army and one from the UWSA.”
Tension between the Burmese Army and UWSA has run high since the latter rejected the junta’s demand this year that the UWSA bring its troops under junta command within its Border Guard Force.