A convoy made up of diplomats representing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a mission to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people in conflict-torn Myanmar has been ambushed, state media said on Monday, and a member of a militia from ethnic minority.
State television MRTV reported that the attack on the convoy with delegates from the ASEAN Coordination Center for Humanitarian Assistance and the Indonesian and Singaporean embassies took place in eastern Shan state on Sunday and was carried out by “terrorists “. The report did not specify which organization the “terrorists” came from. The military government uses the term “terrorists” for a wide range of forces opposed to the military government.
The report said the gunmen opened fire with small arms and the security team accompanying the convoy returned fire. A security vehicle was damaged, but no one in the convoy was hurt, he said.
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The “heinous” attack has made it more difficult for the displaced as the government tries to improve relations with other countries to ease the situation, the report said.
MRTV said the government was cooperating in providing humanitarian assistance as part of a five-point consensus reached by ASEAN in 2021 in a bid to help restore peace in Myanmar after the military took over from Myanmar’s elected government. Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.
The military government failed to implement most of the consensus, which calls for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar, dialogue between all parties, the appointment of a special envoy, humanitarian assistance from ASEAN and a visit by the special envoy in Myanmar for meeting with all parties. His failure to implement the deal has caused ASEAN to exclude Myanmar’s military leaders from its high-level meetings.
Nay Phone Latt, spokesman for the Government of National Unity, an underground group that calls itself the legitimate government of the country and acts as an umbrella organization for opponents of the military government, denied that its armed wing, the People’s Defense Forces, had carried out the attack.
He said the convoy was heading to the office of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization, an ethnic group living in the area, to distribute aid to the displaced.
“We condemn those who carried out this attack on a convoy that came to give aid and support to people fleeing war,” Nay Phone Latt said. “This attack is believed to have been carried out by a group who did not want this aid to reach the area controlled by the PNLO. It is just the terrorist military council and their subordinate factions who do not want humanitarian and diplomatic aid to reach the PNLO, who is deeply involved in the revolution” against the military government, he said.
Khun Tun Tin, deputy chairman of the Pa-Oh National Liberation Organization, confirmed that the attack occurred five miles before the convoy reached the PNLO office in Hsi Hseng town in Shan state, and that the secretary of the group was in the convoy.
The PNLO signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement with the former military-backed government in 2015 and recently joined peace talks with the head of the ruling military council, senior general Min Aung Hlaing.
The township is located about 80 miles northeast of the Myanmar capital, Naypyitaw. The area is part of the self-governing zone of the Pa-O ethnic minority. It is governed by the Pa-O National Organization, which is allied with the military government. Other Pa-O groups support the resistance.
Since the beginning of 2022, more than 5,000 people have taken refuge in Hsi Hseng due to fighting between the army and resistance forces. The latter include the Karenni National Progressive Party – an ethnic minority militia fighting against the army – and their allies in the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force and the National Unity Government-affiliated People’s Defense Forces.
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The Karenni have been fighting for more autonomy for decades. The People’s Defense Forces were formed out of the pro-democracy movement after the 2021 military seizure of power and are allied with groups such as the Karenni.
The 2021 military takeover sparked nationwide peaceful protests that security forces put down with lethal force, sparking an armed resistance that UN experts now refer to as civil war.
Urban guerrillas are active in major cities, and the loosely organized People’s Defense Forces, along with their allies in ethnic minority guerrilla groups, regularly strike military columns and outposts.
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Civilians have borne the brunt of brutal military offensives in the countryside, including the use of artillery and airstrikes, which have displaced more than a million people, sparking a humanitarian crisis.