Shan State govt calls emergency meeting

The Shan State government has convened an emergency meeting in state capital Taunggyi following two weeks of intense fighting in northern Shan State between Burmese government forces and a coalition of four ethnic armed groups known as the Northern Alliance.

According to Shan State Chief Minister Dr. Linn Htut, MPs will discuss the circumstances and effects of the ongoing conflict, as well as the budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year and development issues.

Speaking at a parliamentary session of the lower house in Naypyidaw on December 2, Home Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe said that the so-called Northern Alliance – comprising the Arakan Army (AA); Kachin Independence Army (KIA); Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA); and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) – should be classified as a terrorist organization in accordance with the law.

The Shan State assembly has begun the discussions on that issue on Monday. Although parliamentary details are yet to be announced, the debate is scheduled to last four days.

The recent conflict was ignited after the ethnic alliance launched coordinated offensives against Burmese army and police outposts on November 20. Thereafter, clashes have broken out in the Muse Township villages of 105-Mile, Mong Koe and Parng Zai, as well as in Namkham and Kutkai townships.

Hostilities have intensified, particularly in Mong Koe, a town on the Shan-China border. According to a statement published on December 5 by the Northern Alliance, the Burmese military launched offensives using heavy weapons including airstrikes by fighter jets in residential areas. The ethnic militias claim that schools, religious buildings and homes were destroyed in the raids.

“Four people were killed and two others injured,” read the statement.

On December 1, Shan Herald reported that a group of 70 people from Mong Koe had reportedly been arrested by Burmese troops while en route to a wedding.

According to the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services on Sunday, the Burmese army has now retaken control of Mong Koe town from the ethnic rebels.

Since November 23, about 10,000 people have fled their homes to escape the spreading hostilities. Many sought refuge in makeshift shelters in Muse, while others crossed the border into China. Last week, several hundred villagers returned home, though another 700 remain camped inside religious buildings across Muse Township.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)