Myanmar authority explains Loikaw clashes as ‘terrorist raid’

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Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. FACEBOOK

The Myanmar State Administration Council- (SAC) appointed foreign ministry on January 21 described the skirmishes in Kayah state capital Loikaw 10 days earlier as an attack staged by “terrorists”.

It said in a statement that the ethnic armed group Karenni National Progressive Party and civilian militias known as People’s Defence Forces had conducted a raid by “taking positions in residential areas – houses, governmental and religious buildings”, among other locations.

“The ’terrorist groups’ … [were] using local civilians as human shields and deliberately attacking civilian targets”.

“The ‘terrorists’ did not allow the innocent local civilians who wished to move to safe places during the incident. Instead, they used the civilians as human shields,” the statement said.

Myanmar has been in chaos since February 1, 2021, when the military dissolved the civilian-led administration over alleged election irregularities and declared a one-year state of emergency.

The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, formed the SAC the following day, as the primary ruling body, with Defence Services commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as chairman.

The January 21 statement comes in response to concerns raised by a number of countries and international organisations, the authority noted.

It underlined that while it found that some observations were offered in a constructive manner, others were ostensibly made with the intent to “exert undue political pressure on Myanmar based on information emanating from unverifiable sources, anti-government organisations, media and ‘terrorist groups’”.

The state’s “security forces responded [to] the ‘terrorists’ with utmost restraint not to harm innocent civilians. The ‘terrorist groups’ also launched attacks on Loikaw prison to instigate unrest and disrupt stability in the city”, the statement said.

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Myanmar's SAC-appointed foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin in November last year. MYANMAR FOREIGN MINISTRY

“The security forces were compelled to seek aerial and artillery supports in countering the ‘terrorists’. However, they did not attack innocent civilians. It is learnt that, no innocent civilian was injured and some of the buildings in the prison and civilian buildings suffered collateral damages during the attacks.

“As such, countries and international organisations should reject and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” it added.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has also expressed serious concern over the intense clashes in Loikaw.

Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry on January 20 said the ongoing violence is jeopardising the progress achieved during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent visit to Myanmar.

During his Myanmar trip, Hun Sen spoke of the success of Cambodia’s win-win policy, which he said eventually brought about national reconciliation, comprehensive peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Kingdom, according to Sounry.

“In this spirit, we are of the view that all parties concerned must accept the ceasefire and end all acts of violence while exercising the utmost restraint in order to start a dialogue that will establish favourable conditions leading to the reestablishment of peace in the country,” he said.