Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Fighting intensifies between the regime and Shan


(Mizzima) - Two armed clashes took place between the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and Burmese troops along the Burmese-Thai border last week in the area of Mong Tone Township, part of a strategy to drive a wedge between the SSA-S and the United Wa State Army (UWSA), observers say.

Shan State Army-South troops in formation for parade review. Photo : MizzimaDuring the last four months, the SSA-S and Burmese troops have engaged in 11 clashes, according to sources. The regime lost 14 soldiers and 13 were wounded, sources said.

The SSA-S lost one soldier and two were wounded, sources said. Casualties in the most recent clashes were unknown.

On February 23, SSA-S troops ambushed a unit of the Burmese army near Mong Tone Township. On February 25, the SSA carried out an ambush on Burmese soldiers near Ho Nam Taw village in Mong Hta, a sub-township of Mong Tone Township.

According to an SSA-S official who asked not to named, the fight lasted about 35 minutes and 30 Burmese soldiers were trapped on a mountain besieged by the Shan troops.

Sources said the Burmese regime dispatched around 200 troops from Mong Taw and Na Kong Mu to the area in order to rescue the soldiers.

A military analyst said the reason for the increased fighting in the area, is that, ‘Strategically, the regime aims to cut off the communication line between the southern and northern United Wa State Army as well as the SSA-S by building a town, because the regime is aware that the UWSA could shift sides with the SSA-S, if the regime makes any offensive on the group.’

Reportedly, around 300 UWSA fighters are believed to be stationed at Hai Long (a base to the UWSA that borders with Loi Tai Leng, the headquarters of the SSA-S).

According to a local resident in Pong Pa Kem in Mong Tone Township, ‘The reason behind the fighting is because the Burmese want to transform Mong Hta sub-township into a township.’

A source in Mong Tone said, ‘The SSA is against the plan for creating the new town. However, the Burmese regime has put in place about 200 Burmese civilians together with 19 police officers to settle the area. The SSA has been carrying out many hit and run ambushes.’

He said the Burmese regime promised the Burman civilians that they could do any business they wanted and the regime would support their business for five years without tax.

Residents say they fear the area could become a hub for drug traffickers who do business through Thailand.

According to a local source, around 30 government staff in the Health and Education Department have fled from Mong Hta following several shootings in the town, because they don't want to be targeted by armed groups or be accused ‘of being regime spies.’

The SSA-S is led by Lt. Gen Yawd Serk. Currently, it is the only Shan armed opposition group openly fighting against the Burmese regime, and it is the strongest army among the non-ceasefire groups.

 

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