As fighting between the Burma Army and the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) escalated houses in villages near to a strategic hill in Mong Ko, northern Shan State were burnt down, said residents.
A resident of Nam Taung Village in the Mong Ko area said: “Today [25 November], local villagers’ houses near the strategic hill have been set on fire. The Burma Army burnt down nearly all of them. An aircraft recently fired at a village nearby [the strategic hill]. A battle was fought the whole day yesterday [24 November]. But, the Burma Army hasn’t been beaten yet. [The Burma Army’s] men are still on the strategic hill. The strategic hill is the only place the [Northern] Alliance hasn’t yet seized. They have taken over most areas in Mong Ko.”
He also said that residents in the area are too afraid to go out because of the ongoing battles between the Northern Alliance and the Burma Army.
The Northern Alliance is, according to a press statement released by the group on 21 November, “an Alliance of the Northern Brotherhoods against the Burmese military” made up of the Arakan Army (AA) the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Myanmar National Democratic Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.
Their first act as a group was to launch attacks against Burmese military outposts at Muse’s 105th Mile Border Trading Zone, Mong Ko, Pang Sai, Namhkan and Kutkai on the morning of 20 November.
According to Major Mai Aik Kyaw, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) Information Officer, the Northern Alliance seized some areas of Mong Ko on 20 November and had taken over most areas of Mong Ko by 23 November. As a result the Burma Army increased its military operations in the area, which led to intense fighting.
He said: “Fighting was very intense in Mong Ko this morning [25 November]. I was told that the Burma Army has suffered a serious setback. Then, they went inside the ward on the southeastern side of Mong Ko and took cover amongst civilians. When the Alliance continued to fight them there, they set the houses on fire. We couldn’t fight them after the houses were set on fire.”
The fighting in Mong Ko is between, on the Burma Army side, troops from Light Infantry Division 99 and troops under the North Eastern Command and on the Northern Alliance side a combined force of troops from the KIA, the AA, the TNLA and the MNDAA.
The fighting in northern Shan State has resulted in civilian casualties and loss of property, which the Burma Government and Burma Army claimed were caused by the ethnic troops setting fire to houses.
Many Mong Ko residents fled to Muse after fighting broke out in the area on 24 November.
Nam Taung residents have remained, but they are sheltering at Naum Taung Baptist Church, but because the fighting is becoming so intense they may need to relocate elsewhere.
On 25 November fighting between the Burma Army and the Northern Alliance was very intense in many areas of northern Shan State, including the areas of Mong Ko and Hpawng Seng.
As a result of the fighting, since 20 November, over 4,000 people have fled to China whilst another 4,000 have taken refuge in camps in Muse.
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI