Two Rival Ethnic Militias Clash in Myanmar’s War-torn Shan State

Soldiers from two of Myanmar's ethnic armed groups clashed on Monday near Thibaw township in volatile northern Shan state, though no one was injured or killed, said an officer from one of the militias and a state parliamentarian.

The hostilities occurred between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in an area where both ethnic Shan and Palaung (Ta'ang) groups live, Major Mine Aik Kyaw of the TNLA said.

"We had two fights with the RCSS today in Pankhataund village in Thibaw township," he said. "Another fight occurred in Manlwe village in Thibaw township."

Mine Aik Kyaw also said a battle was under way between government armed forces and the TNLA in the town of Kutkai.

"We heard there is fighting between the RCSS and TNLA in Thibaw township, but no one was killed or injured," said Shan state assembly legislator Sai Tun Nyan of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party who represents the town of Kyaukme.

The RCSS/SSA has also engaged in periodic skirmishes with the Myanmar army, the latest of which occurred Friday near Shan state's capital Taunggyi.

Fighting between the two militias broke out in late November 2015, about six weeks after the signing of the nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) between the government and eight of the country's more than 20 ethnic armed groups.

The RCSS, the political organization that oversees the SSA, is a signatory to the NCA, but the TNLA is not.

After the RCSS signed the accord, Myanmar army forces teamed up with it and launched the offensive against the holdout TNLA in Shan state.

Northern Alliance

The TNLA recently joined a coalition of four ethnic armed groups engaged in hostilities with Myanmar's armed forces in war-torn Shan state.

On Nov. 20, The Northern Alliance, which includes the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), launched coordinated attacks on 10 government and military targets in the Muse township villages of Mong Ko and Pang Zai, the 105-mile border trade zone between Myanmar and China, and areas of Namkham and Kutkai townships.

The attacks triggered a new round of intensified fighting with government troops that has displaced thousands of residents.

Government army soldiers seized the KIA mountaintop Gidon outpost in Waingmaw township in northern Myanmar's Kachin state during the weekend with both sides suffering casualties, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported on Monday.

The government army also captured a KIA outpost about eight kilometers (five miles) north of Gidon on Saturday afternoon, the report said.

The Northern Alliance and the government's Peace Commission are discussing a date on which to hold peace talks. A previous round of talks in November failed.

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