S.H.A.N. has learnt that a Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) drug control unit fought an armed clash with a local People’s Militia group in Laihka Township, Southern Shan State.
According to local residents when the RCSS drug control unit went to take action against drug dealers in the area of Noung Lom Village in Tat Mauk Village-Tract, Laihka Township it clashed with the 758th People’s Militia, forces based in Laihka Town, on the morning of 20th January.
Sai La, who is about 30 years old, said to S.H.A.N.: “While the RCSS were chasing down drug dealers they met with men from the 758th militia and clashed with them. I think the People’s Militia may have requested military assistance, which is why the Laihka based tactical unit sent two companies. On 21st January there were two battle clashes in the Ho Lone and Tat Mauk, Noung Lom areas. I heard that five soldiers from the government side died.”
According to some People’s Militia deserters, who are now in Laihka Township, the five dead soldiers were from the People’s Militia. According to unconfirmed RCSS sources one of their soldiers also died as a result of the fighting.
Sai La said: “I heard that [the Burma Army] Tactical Unit recalled their companies [that they had sent on 21st January to help the People’s Militia] and said that they will let them [the People’s Militia] fight by themselves. If the killed soldiers had been from the Burma Army I do not think they would have retreated as easily.”
Some villagers had to run away from their homes because of the fighting according to Sai Kyaw Zeya the Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD) MP for Linhka Township who met with the displaced villagers.
An SNLD party member confirmed that Sai Kyaw Zeya told the villagers: “If people always run away when there are battle clashes other people will come and live in your homes. You have already seen so many clashes so do not be afraid and do not run away from your homes.”
Tat Mauk Village-Tract is located in the northeast part of the Linhka Town; Tat Mauk, Kung Hone and Noung Lom villages are in the Tat Mauk Village-Tract. RCSS/SSA, Burma Army and the 758th People’s Militia forces all operate in the area.
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI