Another civilian injured in Muse offensive
One civilian was injured by security force fire and three blasts triggered by improvised explosives rocked Muse township on November 28 as fighting between the Tatmadaw and allied ethnic armed groups has continued in the border area.
THREE improvised explosive devices were detonated on November 28 in Muse township and one civilian was injured when security forces fired on him near the site of one of the explosions, as instability prevails over a week after a coordinated attack in the border region.
U Zaw Min, head of the Muse district administration, confirmed the November 28 events.
“Three places were blasted and one man was injured. Security forces tried to stop him after a blast [near the Muse Myoma Police Station, where he was spotted on his motorbike]. He didn’t stop and was injured because he got shot by security.”
In addition to the Muse Myoma Police Station, explosions took place in Kaung Mu Taw ward of Muse town and at Mant Man junction, a crossing near a village of the same name. The explosions went off at 7pm, 9pm and 10pm, respectively, said U Zaw Min.
“Tatmadaw security forces around the blast areas are carrying out clearance of the territories,” the Ministry of Defence announced yesterday.
The injured civilian, 23-yearold Ko Aye Chan Ko Ko, is receiving treatment at Muse Hospital.
The Northern Alliance-Burma, the grouping of four ethnic armed groups that launched a surprise attack in Muse and Kutkai townships on November 20, released a message yesterday advising civilians to stay away from police and security outposts.
Shortly after its initial attack, the alliance urged civilians to avoid non-essential travel in the conflict zone in order to minimise the risk of getting caught up in the conflict.
That same statement described the attack by the alliance – bringing together the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Kachin Independence Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army – as the “inevitable” consequence of persisting Tatmadaw aggression in Kachin and northern Shan states.
The Tatmadaw has vowed to “fight back” in the wake of the November 20 offensive, which the alliance described as an attempt to shift the war front from the remote territories it controls to places like Muse, a border town and major trade hub.
Muse township’s 105 Mile trading zone, one target of the initial assault, is the main trading artery to China, which in turn is Myanmar’s main export destination for rice and an array of other agricultural products.
“We heard the sound of explosions three times and over 40 shots. We thought there was fighting between the Tatmadaw and the alliance group in [Muse] town,” Sai Loon Nao, secretary of the Shan Youth Organisation (Muse), said yesterday of the latest developments.
More than eight clashes took place on November 28 across the Shan State townships of Kutkai, Muse and Namkham, and Bhamaw/Bhamo township in Kachin State, according to the Northern Alliance, which claimed yesterday that the fighting took the lives of some government troops but none of its own.
Two police officers in Kutkai township’s Nantphatka villagetract have also gone missing, the military-owned Myawady news outlet reported.
Some 2000 civilians displaced by the recent fighting remain trapped in the Hai Kaung area, near the Sino-Myanmar border between the towns of Pang Sai and Mong Koe.
More than 3000 civilians have fled to the China side, while over 700 more have taken temporary refuge at several monasteries in the town of Muse.
China has urged a speedy resolution of the current conflict.
U Zaw Min said a local tally of casualties put the number of civilian and government security personnel fatalities at 16, with 51 people injured over more than a week of hostilities.
“Small cabs are plying the Muse-Lashio highway, but big trucks are still hesitant to go,” said U Hla Aung, a local taxi driver in Kutkai who travelled the route on November 28.
“The shops in town open regularly but they close earlier. The conflict seems to have created unease,” Sai Loon Nao said.
The Joint Strategy Team, a group of civil society organisations (CSOs) based in northern Shan and Kachin states, has urged “all warring parties to fully respect international humanitarian law, which provides specific measures to protect civilians in armed conflicts”.
The Kachin Peace Network released a statement calling for the immediate release of 52 civilians that it says were detained arbitrarily on the day of the initial Northern Alliance offensive and remain in Tatmadaw custody. The group was taking part in a wedding ceremony in Hpau Jung Pa village on November 20 and the “arbitrary detention of the civilians is a clear sign of breaching the Geneva Convention”, the statement read.
A response to the November 20 offensive and its aftermath from the Union-level government came on November 23 in the form of a statement from State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as chair of the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre.
“At a time when people of Myanmar are in [the] process of striving for national reconciliation and peace that had remained elusive to them, it is extremely disappointing and saddening that these incidents are instigated,” read her statement.
None of the four members of the Northern Alliance is an NCA signatory, and the TNLA, the MNDAA and the Arakan Army were effectively shut out of the peace process by the previous government, with their status in terms of future participation unresolved to date.
‘Security forces tried to stop him after a blast. He didn’t stop and was injured because he got shot by security.’
U Zaw Min Muse district administration head