Military and NCA member battle in Shan State

Kyaw Zin Win

Government troops and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), an ethnic armed group who signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) in 2015, engaged in an armed conflict in Shan State on March 25.

The army allegedly attacked RCSS forces in Wanyaung Village in Mongpyin Township. The battle lasted over two hours, according to the RCSS.

RCSS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Sai Ngin said on March 28: “They probably wanted us to leave the area. But it is our territory and under our control. They were supposed to notify us before entering our territory through liaison offices. They failed to do that. Moreover, we’re obliged to avoid any direct or indirect action that may be regarded as hostile, according to the NCA. But a skirmish broke out. We’ve reported to the Shan State joint monitoring committee.”

Paragraph 8(b) under Chapter 3 of the NCA stipulates that movement of armed troops in the areas controlled by the other is allowed only after obtaining a prior agreement.

RCSS spokesman attributed the clash to “territorial confusions” and said rumours had it that the army wanted the RCSS to stay only in southern Shan State and Mongpyin was bordering on the eastern part. 

“We have to discuss further about territorial designations,” he said, adding that no one was harmed on RCSS side and some government soldiers were wounded.

The military remains silent on the clash.

The spokesman expressed his concern that any armed conflict could damage the credibility of NCA.

“They attacked our forces on March 25 and invited us to attend the Armed Forces Day parade [in Nay Pyi Taw] on March 27.”

The army and the RCSS exchanged fire in Ohmmu Village in Hsipaw Township on March 7 and the spokesman said then that the army attacked an RCSS camp with heavy artillery.

Colonel Wunna Aung, secretary of the union-level joint monitoring committee, enforcer of the ceasefire deal, said he hoped the issue could be resolved through negotiations.

The two forces fought once in October when government soldiers reportedly attacked a drug rehabilitation camp near Panpwe Village in Mongkai Township without warning.

Translated by Nay Thiha