Mong Kung man killed in crossfire as Shan armed groups clash over territory

A clash between two Shan armed groups vying for control of territory in southern Shan State’s Mong Kung Township has left one local civilian dead and three members of his family injured.

Kwi Seng Kaw, 32, died on Tuesday after his home in the village of Konepawng was hit by an artillery shell the day before. He and his wife and two daughters were being treated for injuries at the Mong Kung township hospital at the time of his death.

“He was hit in the chest and the shrapnel couldn’t be removed in time, which caused infections in all of his internal organs. He died from internal organ failure at around 10:30am today,” a person helping the family told Myanmar Now on Tuesday.

Two rival armed groups, the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), have been engaging in territorial battles in Mong Kung since last month.

According to local sources, Monday’s clash broke out at around 3pm between Konepawng and the neighbouring village of Pankaytu. Despite the deadly incident in Konepawng, fighting resumed Tuesday morning and continued until around 2pm. 

Both sides in the conflict have denied responsibility for the loss of civilian life.

SSPP spokesperson Lt-Col Sai Hsu blamed the latest clash on an RCSS incursion into SSPP territory. He added that while the SSPP retaliated by firing on the intruders, it did not use the kind of artillery that fell on Konepawng.

“I heard the shell was a 60mm type, which is the type the RCSS is known to use,” he said.

Maj Kham Hseng, the spokesperson for the RCSS, denied the charge and also accused the SSPP of carrying out unprovoked attacks.

“They attack us and return to the frontline and then shell the area from there. That’s what they’ve been doing lately,” he said.

Pankaytu is located on the road connecting Mong Kung, Kesi (Kyethi), and Hsipaw, in an area that separates the northern and southern parts of Shan State.

While clashes between the RCSS and SSPP have been taking place since July, they have intensified over the past month despite appeals from politicians and locals to end the fighting.  

Clashes in July resulted in the displacement of thousands of civilians, while another 3,000 have been forced to flee more recent fighting.

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