Fierce clashes between government troops and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South) broke out southeast of Mongyawng Township, Shan State, on Sunday despite a ceasefire agreement being in place.
“The fight started at 7 am and took one-and-a- half hours,” said SSA-South spokesman Maj Sai Lao Hseng. “Government troops from Light Infantry Battalion No. 573 launched the attack first from where they were based.”
One government soldier was killed and three others were wounded from the encounter, but no troops from the SSA-South were hurt, he claimed.
Clashes have occurred three times this month as the Burmese military puts pressure on the ethnic Shan militia to vacate their bases in Mongyawng Township, according to the SSA-South.
Burmese government troops seized a rebel base during a separate clash on March 11, which apparently was close to Monglar troops stationed near the Chinese border.
“We believed that they are worried that we would become friends with the Monglar troops,” said Sai Lao Hseng. “This is why they fought and took this base in order to make a divide between the Monglar and ourselves.”
The current ceasefire was agreed in Shan State capital Taunggyi in December by representatives of the SSA-South and Burma’s Railway Minister Aung Min, who is Naypyidaw’s chief peace negotiator dealing with ethnic armed groups.
Forces from either side must inform the other before traveling in enemy-controlled areas, according to the ceasefire agreement. However, government troops did not give any prior warning that they were entering rebel-held territory, claims the SSA-South.
Clashes between government troops and the SSA-South have reportedly occurred 14 times since the December ceasefire agreement.
Burma’s President Thein Sein has vowed to end ethnic armed conflicts and even ordered Burmese troops to stop fighting rebel militias. Despite this, government armed forces are still locked in battle with the Kachin Independence Army in northern Burma.