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Burmese and Shan troops face off in fresh battle

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Fresh armed clashes broke out on Thursday between Shan troops and the Burmese Army near Wan Hai, Kesi Township, in northern Shan State, according to a Shan source.

Burma-SoldiersThe firefight kicked off when a unit of the Light Infantry Division (LID) 33 ran into a patrol from Battalion 24 of the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) in the early evening. The battle lasted for 45 minutes from around 5.15 p.m., but details of the casualties on both sides were unavailable at the time of reporting.

The incident occurred at Kunkieng-Wanlwe, three miles (around five kilometres) west of Wanhsaw, a village near Wanhai, the SSA-N’s main base, the Shan Herald Agency for News reported.

According to the source: “Burmese troops are encroaching on our territory and the shooting took place in the jungle, not on the highway, because we put our security men there.”

Meanwhile, Burmese troops from Kunhing and Mongnawng townships in southern Shan State and Namlan and Hsipaw townships in northern Shan State reportedly moved forces troops into the Wanhai area, controlled by SSA-N Brigade 1 at Kesi Township, the source said.

Around 1,500 to 2,000 Burmese troops were already in the area, he said. The deployed Burmese troops were avoiding highways or well-travelled paths, change in tactics, making their way through the jungle to set up bases on mountains. This was carried out in the apparent belief of gaining a tactical advantage against the opposing ethnic groups.

The source added, LID 33 had already passed through the first checkpoint of the SSA-N and were about to enter the second before reaching to the main base of the SSA-N, when SSA-N troops confronted them and the clashes started.

SSA-S (non-ceasefire group) spokesman Sao Lao Hseng said: “The purpose of sending reinforcements against the 1st Brigade of the SSA-N is to cut off the communication lines between the SSA-N and outsiders, typically from the United Wa State Army (UWSA). It is to … block any outside assistance if fighting breaks out between the SSA-N and the Burmese troops.”

Tension between the ceasefire groups and Burmese troops has become explosive since ceasefire groups rejected being brought under Burmese Army command within the junta’s Border Guard Forces.

The frequency of clashes between SSA-N and Burmese troops has risen greatly since September, when Burmese troops launched the first of three attacks on the group.

Recently however the SSA-N had formed a military alliance with five other ethnic armed opposition groups in Chiang Mai, Thailand last week. The alliance comprises the Kachin Independence Organisation, New Mon State Party, and Shan State Army North (SSA-N); and non-ceasefire groups, the Karen National Union, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front.

The formation of the alliance was aimed at assisting each other if a member group was attacked by the Burmese Army.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 November 2010 00:31 )  

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