One dead, three injured in explosion at Namkham protest

An explosion during a protest on Monday against the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in Namkham, northern Shan State killed one person and injured three others.  

Around 300 locals gathered along the Pyidaungsu highway for a demonstration in which they alleged that the SSPP/SSA had killed a local from the village of Mon Sam when three different explosions took place on the road, a Namkham resident told Myanmar Now. 

“The first two explosions were not very loud, so we didn’t think anything went off. The last explosion was right outside my house, and it was very loud,” the local man said. 

One of two men on a motorbike was killed during the blast, which occurred near the Namkham market; the other man suffered injuries. Two women who were also passing by were injured, the local source said. 

According to footage that has gone viral on social media, a pistol was found next to the motorbike and the man who was killed in the blast. At the time of reporting, he had yet to be identified. 

Members of the regime’s armed forces came to inspect the scene of the explosion later that day.

On May 31, the SSPP/SSA arrested Sai Si Aik Kham, a villager from Mon Sam. He died while in the armed group’s custody nearly one month later on Sunday, locals said.

The SSPP/SSA has alleged that he was detained for collecting “taxes” in the area for another Shan armed organisation, the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA).

Locals from Mon Sam collected Sai Si Aik Kham’s body from the SSPP/SSA on Sunday night.

The RCSS/SSA and SSPP/SSA have been clashing in the region in recent months.  

An SSPP/SSA announcement on Monday evening alleged that the men on the motorbike were responsible for setting up the bomb, which they said was intended to go off amid the crowd of protesters, but instead exploded unexpectedly outside the market. A photograph of the two men—one dead and one injured—was included in the announcement. 

The organisation said that it was not behind the explosion and condemned it as an “act of terrorism.”

Myanmar Now was unable to verify the SSPP/SSA’s claim that the men on the motorbike were behind the bombing and has been unable to contact either the SSPP or the RCSS regarding the incident and ongoing tension in the area. 

Also present in and around Namkham is the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), a known SSPP/SSA ally. 

Since the February 1 coup, the military council’s armed forces have been clashing with the RCSS/SSA, SSPP/SSA and the TNLA in northern Shan State.

There are at least six ethnic armed organisations operating in northern Shan State, as well as the junta’s armed forces and a number of regime-backed militias. 

A 32-year-old man who had worked for the SSPP from 2015 until 2018 was shot on his way home in Naung Laung village tract in Namkham on June 26. The perpetrator has not been identified.

The SSPP/SSA said on Monday that another person who had worked for them in Naung Pein village in Kyaukme Township was also shot dead this month. 

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