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Junta said to be supplying chemical mortars to army

New Delhi (Mizzima) - In what seems to be a sinister design, the Burmese military junta, while reinforcing its troops in Shan state for a massive offensive against ethnic ceasefire groups, is supplying its army with mortars laced with chemical ingredients, sources said.

According to the Thailand-based ethnic Kachin News Group (KNG), the junta’s troops since last month have been stockpiling a strange type of mortar shell, marked with red, yellow and green colours.

“We have our source in the army. Our source tells us that the army is bringing in these mortars, which are made of chemicals. But they have been strictly told not to use it without orders from higher ups,” said Naw Din, Editor of the KNG, quoting a military source.

Naw Din said, the mortars, according to an insider, were imported from North Korea and have a deadly chemical impact, once fired.

“When the mortars are fired, it contaminates the air and causes people to faint, results in bleeding of the nose, causes breathing difficulties and blurs the eye sight,” Naw Din said.

He added the army source told him that at least two military trucks carrying these mortars were sent to the Burmese Army’s No.1 Nyaung Pin military base on the mountain top near Mongkoe in Northeast Shan State, in early September.

While the supply and possible use of chemical mortars by the junta’s troops cannot be independently verified, sources on the Sino-Burma border said Burmese troops are being heavily reinforced.

Following the Kokang incident in late August, the Burmese junta has been directing its army to borders of the territory of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the strongest armed faction among the ceasefire groups, and Mongla areas, where the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) is based.

Sein Kyi, Assistant Editor of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), said the junta while increasingly pressurizing the ethnic ceasefire groups to accept its proposal of transforming to the ‘Border Guard Force’ through negotiations and meetings, is also increasing its military presence in northern and eastern Shan state.

“In recent weeks, the Burmese military commanders have proposed meeting lower ranking officials of the UWSA, in order to split the group. But UWSA officials rejected the plan saying they should contact their headquarters,” Sein Kyi said.

In the meantime, Sein Kyi said, the junta is also reinforcing its bases with more troops, and stockpiling supplies, in what looks like a preparation for a massive offensive.

“I don’t have any updates on the possibilities of stockpiling chemical mortars, but earlier about a year or two ago, I had been told by our sources inside the military that they have chemical mortars made in North Korea,” Sein Kyi added.

While he said he did not know of the recent supplies of chemical mortars, he did not rule out the possibility.

“It would be very deadly if these mortars are used. It would impact not only soldiers but all the people, villagers and civilians alike,” he added.

With the Burmese military junta setting the deadline for ethnic ceasefire groups to respond to their proposal of transforming into Border Guard Force to October, sources said, fighting is likely to break out soon.

But with about a 20,000 armed force, the UWSA is unlikely to submit to the junta and a clash between the two could end in a bloodbath.

“The junta will attack the UWSA and other groups sooner or later, but we don’t know how and whether they will launch a direct military campaign or not. They might also rely on other tactics as they did in the Kokang incident,” Sein Kyi said.

But sources said, the junta is likely to look for Chinese signals and it would largely depend on China whether the junta would launch a direct military campaign because the Wa are largely seen as being backed by the Chinese.

Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 22:04 )  

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