According to RCSS spokesperson Lt-Col Oum Khur, the current bout of fighting has been ongoing since October 2.
“Whether clashes increase or decrease depends on the Burma Army,” he explained. “If the Burma Army conducts a search and then attacks, the clash could spread to roads and urban areas. We are worried about that.”
Lt-Col Oum Khur speculated that the government forces were instigating conflict ahead of Burma’s general election scheduled for November 8, and trying to push Shan troops out of the area, despite a long presence there.
Commander-in-chief of Burma’s armed forces Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing said on September 8 that both the RCSS and the Shan State Progress Party soldiers must stay in their “designated areas.”
However, the issue of territory remains a contested one, with the RCSS saying that they have not been able to discuss demarcation in meetings with the military and government, despite it being listed as a security issue in Chapter 3 of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), to which the RCSS is a signatory.
“They are creating armed conflict because they do not want the presence of the RCSS troops in northern Shan State. That’s why they have accused us of crossing out of our designated area,” Lt-Col Oum Khur told SHAN.
He added that the RCSS never agreed to remain only in southern Shan State when they signed the NCA.
The Burma Army continues to send troops into RCSS territory, increasing the likelihood of further clashes, the RCSS spokesperson said, adding that it “could impact the coming election.”
“We do not want any clashes. If the Tatmadaw is protecting the people, they need to take care of the people. They should not create any conflict,” Kyaukme’s Constituency 1 parliamentarian Sai Tun Win told SHAN.
Regarding the clashes in Kyaukme Township, SHAN repeatedly called the Tatmadaw’s information team for comment, but no one answered.
On October 6, the military information team reported that an RCSS shell had landed in a village and injured a local man.
Nearly 1,000 people have been displaced in Kyaukme Township due to the current fighting, which has been occurring despite an extension of the Tatmadaw’s unilateral ceasefire declaration through the end of the month, which is supposed to be applied in Shan State.
Source: The Shan Herald Agency for News