Fighting broke out between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in Mongton Township, eastern Shan State on Tuesday morning, resulting in casualties on both sides, according to officers from both ethnic armed organisations.
RCSS spokesperson Maj Kham San told Myanmar Now that UWSA forces arrived with apparent plans to attack one of their bases in Mongton, across the Thai border from Chiang Rai province. They retreated moments after opening fire, he added.
“They started attacking our base, so it was clear that they started the fight,” he said.
UWSA communications officer Sam Baim claimed Wa troops had attacked because the RCSS had entered their territory.
“They trespassed into our territory and when one of our soldiers went out to check as they neared our base, they started shooting. The young soldier was killed,” he told Myanmar Now.
He estimated four other UWSA troops were injured, and five members of the RCSS killed. However, Maj Kham San said he was unable to confirm the number of casualties on either side.
Several local news organisations reported that there were casualties, but Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify further details on the incident.
Mongton is located just 50 miles from the RCSS headquarters at Loi Tai Leng.
Asia Times reported that some 20 years after occupying the areas around Mongton, the UWSA now claims them as part of their “southern territories”—separate from the autonomous zone granted to them by the military and centred in Panghsang, northern Shan State.
Tension has been high in the region for months, as the RCSS’s Maj Kham San noted that the junta’s armed forces also continue to operate in Mongton. There, he described how Myanmar army, Wa and Shan bases all face one another.
He told Myanmar Now that the RCSS would take steps to avoid another battle.
“We will contact and negotiate with the local bases from both parties. We will try to find out why the attack was carried out,” he said.
The UWSA did not comment on the RCSS’s plans to hold negotiations but has stated that their forces would take action against anyone who trespassed into the areas they consider part of their territory.
The military council did not return Myanmar Now’s calls.
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