Ethnic armed groups launch attack on military outposts in northern Myanmar

Naypyidaw [Myanmar], Nov. 21 : Military conflicts broke out in the border area of northern Myanmar's Shan state yesterday morning after an alliance of ethnic armed groups launched simultaneous offensives on military outposts and police stations in Muse and Kutkai townships as well as a border trade center with at least eight people killed in the assault.

"Today, we began an offensive operation because the Tatmadaw has continuously carried out offensives in remote ethnic areas of Kachin, the Kokang and Ta'ang and Rakhine and Shan," the Myanmar Times quoted Colonel Mong Aik Kyaw, a spokesperson for the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), as saying.

The offensive took place at the 105-mile trade zone in Kutkai township involving soldiers from the TNLA, the Kachin Independence Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army.

In a statement, the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Office announced that in addition to police and military installations, the Thein Ni-Namtu, Nant Pon and Swon Lon bridges came under attack.

The statement said a total of 10 locations were targeted by hundreds of troops. Three civilians and five members of government security forces were killed, with 18 civilians and 11 members of the security forces injured.

"They are still in hospital for treatment. We are taking full security [measures] in town. The town is under control," said a police officer from Muse Myoma Police Station. Ministry of Defence spokesperson Major General Aung Ye Win said, "Military and police security forces fought back and are trying to protect the civilians." A statement from the four ethnic armed groups said that yesterday's offensive was "unavoidable" given the Tatmadaw's repeated aggression in ethnic areas over recent months and asked the civilians to avoid travel in the area in order to minimise the risk of getting caught up in the conflict.

The attack lends a major blow to the civilian National League for Democracy government's peace overtures to the nation's ethnic armed groups, more than seven months into its term in office.

None of the groups involved in the attack has a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government, nor were any of the four signatories to last year's nationwide ceasefire agreement.

The TNLA, the MNDAA and the Arakan Army have been excluded from the formal peace process, while the KIA has been engaged in a protracted conflict with the Tatmadaw that began in 2011.

Source: ANI