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Days after ceasefire, northern Myanmar sees more battles

Fighting erupted between the junta and allied ethnic groups in northern Myanmar just days after the two sides agreed a ceasefire, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Three Brotherhood Alliance.

The alliance accused junta soldiers remaining in Shan state’s Kokang of firing grenades, the statement said. It added that junta troops launched the weapons from 30 meters (98 feet) away while allied Kokang resistance fighters were stationed near Kachin mountain. 

Despite the ceasefire reached during a third round of China-brokered peace talks in Kunming on Thursday night, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army retaliated and fighting began again around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. 

The alliance claimed junta troops fired back three times with heavy weapons before retreating.

Despite the ceasefire, it’s possible that remaining junta troops separated from the rest of the army would open fire and attack, a military analyst who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday.

“The areas of Laukkai, Konkyan, and Yan Long Keng are very rough and it’s difficult to communicate there. It’s probably the remnants of the junta army that went into the forest during the [previous] battles,” he said. 

“I am not sure whether they know about the ceasefire after the [Kunming] talks.”

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, one of the groups making up the Three Brotherhood Alliance, captured Laukkai city in Kokang’s Self-Administered Zone when more than 1,000 junta troops surrendered on Jan. 4 

Although the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army sent the surrendering troops back to Lashio, some who were separated from the main group may have initiated the attack, military observers said.

Both the alliance and regime announced their public agreement to the ceasefire on Friday.

According to the agreement, all parties involved would immediately cease fighting in their current locations. Starting Friday, the Three Brotherhood Alliance agreed to refrain from attacks on cities and junta camps. Regime forces similarly committed to halting airstrikes and other heavy weapons attacks.

However, tensions still run high. When the Kachin Independence Army launched an attack on a Kutkai military base Sunday night, the junta Defense Service released a statement claiming the Three Brotherhood Alliance’s Ta’ang National Liberation Army was involved. 

Despite the ceasefire, the alliance is still preparing for future battles, claiming in a statement released Sunday that the regime is launching an offensive that began on Saturday. The statement added the junta is also responsible for airstrikes and heavy weapons attacks in Mongmit, Kutkai, and Kyaukme townships after the ceasefire agreement.

RFA called Shan state junta spokesperson Khun Thein Maung and national junta spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun for more information on these accusations, but calls went unanswered Wednesday.

According to data compiled by RFA, in the more than two months since Operation 1027 launched on Oct. 27 to Friday’s ceasefire, the alliance captured 15 cities in northern Shan state.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.