Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Shan State Progress Party/ Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) joined forces to fight against the government. According to a spokesperson from TNLA, the government’s Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 501 and Infantry Battalion (IB) 144 fought on Saturday morning at 9am near the Se Nay village, between Nan Hkan and Kut Khai districts in Northern Shan State. Recently, the three ethnic armed groups made a commitment to work together in solidarity against the Burmese military. “The military has been following us while our troops [KIA, TNLA, SSPP/SSA] are off traveling the country to organize. They attacked us; this battle lasted over five hours. A villager from the Mine Wi Hospital said that three government soldiers died and eight were injured,” informed Mai Phone Kyaw.
The government military has been tailing ethnic arms groups since they began a campaign to eradicate narcotic drugs in Nan Hkan and Kut Khai districts. Nan Hkan, Kut Khai, Mong Tong and Mong Sang districts have more than ten government military battalions patrolling the areas and the military base is located in Mong Sang, Mong Tong and Nan Hkan (Mine Wi). On October 23rd a commander from Northern Division Military Headquarters came to direct orders in Mong Tong, this led to a battle between government troops and the people’s militia in Pan Shay with the KIA/TNLA/SSPP troops in the area of Thapangon-Shaukpangon village on October 25th. After this battle the government’s military operation increased.
In the Northern part of Pan Shay the government is growing opium plans, additionally Pan Shay is also where Shwe Natural Gas Pipeline is located, which creates a pathway through the central area. Because of the most recent battle the government troops have extended their occupied area all the way to the Shwe Natural Gas Pipeline pathway. This led to the ethnic armed groups increasing their troop numbers.
There are four TNLA battalions in Kut Khai and Nan Hkan areas: 112 Kut Khai, 256 Nan Shan, 367 Mong Tong and 478 Nan Hkan. These TNLA battalions, as well as KIA’s Brigade (4), cooperate with SSPP/SSA’s Nan Magwin battalions in the areas of Kut Khai, Nan Shan, Mong Tong and Nan Hkan.
KIA, TNLA and SSPP/SSA are members of the United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFU). Even though SSPP/SSA signed a ceasefire agreement the government is still trying to force SSPP/SSA to withdraw their troops and threatening them with attack if SSPP/SSA does not comply.
Lieutenant Senior General Min Aung HLaing, the government’s Commander-in-Chief Defense Services, visited the Goldern Triangle area of Kengtung in the Eastern District of Shan State last September 6th and met with the chairman of United Wa State Party (UWSP). According to UWSP, Min Aung Hlaing urged the UWSP to not cooperate with the SSPP/SSA and KIA alliance army.
The ethnic arms groups have little faith in the governments promise to keep true to the ceasefire agreements. Five ethnic groups within UNFC have not signed a ceasefire agreement but they have built alliances with ethnic groups that have, and continue to work together.