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Civil war imminent in Burma: Observers

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – After capturing the Kokang area, the Burmese Army is reinforcing its troops and equipping them with heavy armaments, along the Sino-Burma border, leading military analysts to believe that another war is imminent.

The army is equipping its troops stationed near Mai Sat area, about 20 miles from Hong Pang town in northern Wa territory and northeast of Keng Tong towns, with rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPG) and armoured vehicles.

“On September 1, there were 46 military trucks escorted from Taunggyi to Pengku town. Sources told me that the trucks carried arms and ammunitions including heavy machine guns. When the trucks arrived in Keng Tong, the convoy was divided, with one group heading towards the Northeast and the other heading Southeast,” Sein Kyi, Assistant Editor of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) told Mizzima.

A source in the War Office in Naypyitaw, said the Burmese junta is preparing for a military offensive soon.

The Commander of the Northern military Command Lt. Gen Aung Than Htut is now based in Kokang’s capital town of Lao Kai and is supervising the troops stationed in the area, while Lt. Gen Min Aung Hlaing from the Ministry of Defence is  touring the region.

Burmese generals believe that civil war will divert the people’s attention from the 2010 elections, and provide the military a better chance to carry out its plan without a hitch, the source said.

Meanwhile, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which has a ceasefire pact with the junta, has put its army on high alert. It has announced that if necessary, it would recruit a man from each household in its army.

Quoting local residents, a Radio Free Asia Burmese programme reported that the UWSA on September 5 and 6 held meetings with local residents in 12 townships and told them that if it becomes essential the UWSA would summon one person from each household.

Analysts estimate that the Wa region, with a population of 400,000, has at least 20,000 strong army.

Most Wa youths have basic military training. So far, Wa leaders have summoned over 40,000 reserve forces, Sein Kyi, who is closely monitoring the situation in Shan State, said.

Another source in the War Office said that the junta has demanded that Wa leaders hand over the fugitive Kokang leader, who they suspect has taken refuge in Wa territory.

Military observers and analysts predict that if war between the junta’s troops and the Wa rebels break out, an estimated 50,000 Shan and Wa refugees would flee to neighbouring Thailand, while a larger number are expected to head for China.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 September 2009 14:19 )  

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