Fighting broke out between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and joint forces belonging to the Myanmar army and a junta-backed militia in northern Shan State’s Muse Township on Sunday evening, reportedly killing two militia members and injuring three others.
Residents said that the military unit attacked troops from the ethnic armed organisation who were inspecting vehicles near Seilant village along the road that connects Muse with Namkham Township. They told Myanmar Now that the junta forces were backed by the Namkham Myoma militia.
“[The clash] was incredibly close to the village, causing the ground to shake. It was so loud that we had to hide inside the house until it got dark,” said a man from the neighbouring village of Maik Hset, which has a strong TNLA presence.
He added that guns and heavy weapons were fired for around an hour, starting at 5pm.
In a video of the clash area posted by locals to Facebook, trucks were seen parked on the roadside during the clash as more military vehicles and ambulances headed toward Seilant.
The junta blocked the road, allowing select cars to pass through after 7pm, according to area residents, who said that by Monday traffic had returned to normal.
The three injured militia members reportedly suffered chest and thigh wounds, and were sent for treatment to the military hospital in the northern Shan State town of Lashio.
Since the beginning of the year, the TNLA has been conducting weekly inspections of vehicles travelling along the Muse-Namkham road, typically searching for those transporting narcotics.
However, the villager from Maik Hset said that these troops had not previously come under attack by the Myanmar army during such activities.
On the TNLA’s official social media page, they wrote that tension is growing in the area as the military increases its presence in nearby Seilant.
The TNLA overran a junta base near Maik Hset in late 2021 and began administrative operations in the area.
Several armed forces are active along the Muse-Namkham road, including the TNLA and its allies, the Shan State Progress Party and the Kachin Independence Army, as well as regime forces and its allied militias.
A clash lasting 30 minutes broke out between the TNLA and the military on July 11 near Muse’s 105-mile trade zone, near the Shan-China border.
In early June, the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed organisations—of which the TNLA is a member—met with a junta delegation in Mongla, eastern Shan State, for talks. The meeting was held at the request of China, but came to an abrupt halt before the last scheduled day, yielding no tangible outcomes. It was followed by battles between the Myanmar army and the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, another Northern Alliance member, in northern Shan State.