Thu 23 Dec 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
An arms clash between unidentified force believed to be Wa and a Burma Army unit had sent both Thai and Shan agents along the border rushing to Chiangrai’s Mae Fah Luang district, facing Burma’s Monghsat township yesterday:
At 07:55, according to a solid source, a company of Tachilek-based Light Infantry Battalion, led by Lt Myo Min Thant, ran into a 30-men armed band. During the ensuing 15 minutes, the unknown group was able to disengage and withdraw apparently without suffering any serious casualty. On the Burma Army’s side, 5 were wounded, two seriously. (They were later reported dead)
Reinforcements from the neighboring units: Monghpyak-based LIB 329 and Mongpiang-based LIB 360 later carried out a probing operation firing 81 mm mortar shells into likely hide-outs all day long but failed to uncover the mysterious hostile troops, they said.
The Shan State Army of Col Yawdserk had denied outright the unknown band was one of its own. “If you look at the map, you’ll understand why it wasn’t us,” argued Lt-Col Gawnzeun, Commander of the Kengtung Front that is operating in the area. (Map attached)
“The section on this side of the border is thick with hostile troops,” he explained. “It would have been foolish of us to traverse it.”
A Wa source in Mongton confirmed this morning that it was an encounter between the United Wa State Army’s patrol and that of the Burma Army.
A high-ranking Thai security official had put it in the following way:
“On 10 December, a two-truck convoy was ambushed by an unidentified force near Mongtoom, killing 4 (the death toll increased to 6, when two more were found dead) including Col Khin Maung Latt (not Khin Maung Hla). The Burma Army had dismissed the SSA, saying it would be too much of a fluke for it.
Reports later of the killing of 7-8 Burmese officers near Htalang on 17 December by the Wa was said to have been brought about following insinuations by the former of the likelihood of the latter’s connection to the attack.
In the light of those two previous events, it is different to imagine the latest clash was not with the Wa.”
“The trouble,” he continued, “is that the Burmese keep saying it was the SSA, and not the UWSA, who was the guilty party on both the first and third counts. As for the second count, they have yet to say anything. Maybe they are in the know of something we don’t.”
He added that the Thais had yet to “acquit” the SSA. “We’ll still be closely following their activities,” he said.
The Thai-Burma border meeting, township level, was held today in Chiangrai. It is yet to be reported what topics the two sides discussed.
Meanwhile, the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma reported that relations between Rangoon and Panghsang, the Wa capital on the Chinese border, was becoming touchy due to the former’s units setting up camps in the latter’s territory without prior consultations.