Tatmadaw refutes TNLA statement claiming gunfire exchanged


The Tatmadaw has disapproved a statement made by the TNLA (Ta’ang National Liberation Army) saying they fought with Tatmadaw troops on 24 December near Shwemaw Village, Kutkai Township, according to Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun, Deputy Director of Public Relations and Psychological Warfare of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army).
He said the statement made by the TNLA and coverage by RFA and The Irrawaddy were both false. He said the TNLA claimed the Tatmadaw launched an offensive while the two media outlets reported they interviewed local villagers who said Tatmadaw troops ambushed TNLA troops. Both accusations are false, said the Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.
The Office of the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief has issued an announcement on ceasefire and eternal peace on 21 December. In the announcement, the Tatmadaw declared a unilateral ceasefire in five regional command areas (Northern Command, Northeastern Command, Eastern Command, Central Eastern Command and Triangle Command) from 21 December 2018 to 30 April 2019 in order to facilitate peace talks with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
The National Reconciliation and Peace Centre and various EAOs have welcomed the announcement as a constructive gesture.
Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said all five regional commands were given specific directions to observe ceasefire immediately after the announcement was made. He said there has been no fighting since then.
However, the Tatmadaw has not directed the Western Command in Rakhine State to cease its military operations.
Concerning the Western Command, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said since there are armed terrorist groups active in Rakhine State, they cannot stop military operations as the area is not classified as peaceful or stable region.
The Tatmadaw made the ceasefire announcement after three members of the Northern Alliance; MNTJP/MNDAA (Kokang), PSLF/TNLA (Ta’ang Palaung), and ULA/AA (Rakhine); pledged to seek solutions through political dialogue in a resolution issued on 12 December. —Ye Khaung Nyunt (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)

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