Three Chinese nationals were killed during weekend attacks by two ethnic armed groups in the border town and trading hub of Muse in one of the deadliest bouts of hostilities to hit Myanmar’s volatile northeastern Shan state in years, a local government official told RFA’s Myanmar service on Tuesday.
Soldiers from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked Muse township’s police force, a local government-backed militia, and a casino on the outskirts of the town on May 12, leaving 20 people dead and more than two dozen injured.
Among the dead on Sunday were 14 civilians, including the Chinese nationals, while another civilian died the next day.
Three Chinese citizens were killed during the fighting in Muse, Hlaing Soe Thant, the town’s district administrator told RFA, contradicting a statement by Chinese officials that two of its nationals had died.
They were visitors, he said.
The Chinese government has not asked Myanmar for compensation for the killing of its citizens, but it has urged the Myanmar government to intensify security in the area, Hlaing Soe said.
About 250 Myanmar citizens fled across the border into Chinese territory during the attacks on May 12, but Chinese authorities sent them back to Myanmar that evening after the fighting ended, he said.
Today’s situation in Muse is getting back to normal, so no one needs to worry anymore, he said.
The Chinese embassy in Myanmar condemned the violence in a statement issued Monday and said it has sent representatives to the relevant authorities in Myanmar to urge the ethnic militia and the government army to exercise restraint for an immediate cease-fire and to take measures to prevent tensions from escalating.
The TNLA and KIA have been engaged in long-running hostilities with Myanmar forces in northern Shan and Kachin states, where they seek greater autonomy. Fighting in both regions has displaced more than 100,000 people, most of whom reside in refugee camps.
Clashes between the KIA and Myanmar army in Kachin state continued for a third day on Monday when national forces launched three air attacks on KIA Battalion 6 under the rebel army’s Brigade 2, the online news journal The Irrawaddy reported, citing the battalion’s military commander as the source.
The attacks neither caused civilian casualties nor damaged villages, he added.
Neither the TNLA nor the KIA is a signatory of the government’s nationwide cease-fire agreement inked with eight ethnic armed groups in October 2015, with two more joining the pact in February.
The ongoing fighting has stalled Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts to bring warring factions to the negotiation table to try to end decades of civil war and forge lasting peace.
China which has been providing support to Myanmar to hold a third round of peace talks under the government’s 21st-Century Panglong Conference, said it firmly opposes any attempt to undermine peace and stability along the China-Myanmar border and any act deliberately obstructing Myanmar’s peace process.
Motion on Muse passes
Also on Tuesday, the lower house of Myanmar’s parliament unanimously passed a motion submitted by lawmaker Than Soe and supported by lawmaker Thein Htun, both of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), condemning the Muse attacks.
This fighting is not the first time that fighting has occurred in Muse, Than Soe said. It is the second time, and innocent people were killed.
The trade flow and other businesses have also stopped operating because Muse lies along the major trade route to and from China, he said.
Armed clashes between Myanmar forces and the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army in northeastern Shan state in 2017 killed dozens, including a couple of Chinese nationals, and forced more than 30,000 to flee to safety, mostly in China where the Chinese government housed them in refugee camps.
The hostilities forced the closure of the Muse border trade zone, the largest of the trade hubs between Myanmar and China.
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