Despite the Chinese special envoy’s call for the de-escalation of fighting during the Chinese New Year, violent skirmishes have broken out between the Burma Army and the Northern Alliance up to the Chinese New Year’s Eve (26 January), the Northern Alliance’s spokesperson Major Mai Aik Kyaw said.
The Northern Alliance announced that four skirmishes have broken out from 19 to 24 January in Muse, Kutkai, and Laukkai townships in northern Shan State, where the Northern Alliance is active, and two violent skirmishes broke out on 25 January. The Burma Army has not released anything about the skirmishes yet.
While the Northern Alliance wants to deescalate the fighting as it is a limited war, the Burma Army entered the forest where they are active, leading to clashes between the two sides. The clashes broke out because the Burma Army has expanded its forces and launched the offensives, according to Major Mai Aik Kyaw, information officer of the Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA) and spokesperson of the Northern Alliance.
“The fighting cannot be stopped by one side alone. We try to avoid it as much as we can. The Burma Army is attacking us in the forest where we are staying so skirmishes broke out when the two sides encounter,” he explained.
The Network Media Group was unable to contact Major General Aung Ye Win, director of the Office of Public Relations and Psychological Warfare under the Ministry of Defence to inquire about the skirmishes.
Concerning the recent fighting between the Northern Alliance and the Burma Army, U Maung Maung Soe, Burma’s political and military affairs observer, said, “It’s difficult to talk about this because each side claims the other side started it first. I can only talk about this after they clearly say who started the skirmishes.”
During a meeting between the Northern Alliance and the Chinese Special Envoy of Asian Affairs Mr. Sun Guoxiang in Kunming, Yunnan Province of China on 19 January, China asked the Northern Alliance to reduce or halt the fighting.
According to the Chinese Special Envoy, Chinese delegates have met with the Burma Army’s Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw and the Burmese government has expressed its wish to meet with the Northern Alliance.
U Maung Maung Soe explained that the increase in fighting may be a preliminary to the meetings.
“Sometimes, fighting has been increased before the meetings are held because they need to stop fighting during the discussion. There are plans to meet with the DPN (Delegation for Political Negotation) and the three northern groups. If they reach an agreement during the meeting, they need to call for a truce. Both armies need to stop in wherever area they have arrived in. So, they are trying to compete in taking over important areas before that time has arrived,” said U Maung Maung Soe.
The Northern Alliance comprises the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Arakan Army (AA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance (MNDAA).
Translated by Thida Linn