Fighting broke out between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) in Muse and Kukai townships in northern Shan State over the weekend, displacing around 200 people, according to local sources.
The fighting erupted after Tatmadaw troops tried to apprehend TNLA soldiers who were reportedly demanding money from drivers on the Muse-Lashio highway.
The TNLA reported multiple clashes on Sept. 29 in the Kung Hka, Nam Paw, Man Peng and Num Um areas of Muse Township.
The longest clash, in an area between Kung Hka and Num Um villages, lasted from 8:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. on Sept. 29.
According to the TNLA’s Brigadier-General Tar Phone Kyaw, both sides suffered causalities. “Some of our men were wounded; I do not have detailed information about the death toll on either side.”
The TNLA seized some military equipment from the Myanmar Army, including M60 rifles and Army uniforms.
Another clash broke out on Sept. 30 in the Tar Moe Nyar area of Kukai Township as the Tatmadaw continued to hunt members of the TNLA.
The TNLA’s demanding of money from drivers came to light after travelers on the road from Muse to Lashio posted video online showing members of the armed group stopping vehicles.
Upon learning of the activity, Myanmar Army troops set out in pursuit of the TNLA units, triggering the clashes. “The highway has been improved, making it easy for [the Tatmadaw] to reach the place where we were taxing drivers,” Brig-Gen. Tar Phone Kyaw said.
About 200 residents of Man Peng village fled as the clashes neared their homes.
The IDPs took refuge in a church in Hsenwi Township. “They arrived at our church in the evening,” said Hkun Gam, a religious leader.
Township authorities met the IDPs yesterday evening and told them to return as the fighting in the village had ceased. The IDPs went back to their village on Monday morning, Hkun Gam said.
The TNLA is active in northern Shan. It has not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the Myanmar Army, though peace negotiations between the government and the ethnic armed group are ongoing.