Wed 28 Feb 2007
Filed under: News,On The Border
According to Maj Gen Bee Htoo, Chief of Staff of the Karenni Army, the military arm of the Karenni National Progressive Party, the Burma Army will be launching a dry season offensive against his army and the Shan State Army (SSA) come April, reported the local Chiangmai News yesterday.
Kantarwaddy Times, based in Maehongson, has confirmed the news adding that the information was given by Burma Army porters who had escaped to the border. Other details are not available.
Kalaw-based Light Infantry Division (LID) 55 has been reinforcing its units along the border west of Maehongson, the newspaper reported.
However, north of Maehongson and its neighboring provinces, Chiangmai and Chiangrai, no unusual troop movements are being reported, according to Shan and Thai sources.
So far, there are only a few indicators:
On 15-16 January, pro-military Lahu militia units in Monghsat district, which covers three townships: Monghsat, Mongpiang and Mongton, opposite Thailand’s Maehongson, Chiangmai and Chiangrai provinces, attended a meeting, where they were ordered by the Burma Army area commander to prepare for a major operation against the SSA after their annual New Year celebrations. The Lahu traditionally observe their New Year, which falls on 18 February this year, for two weeks.
Another is the construction of a new bridge on the Maesai river, some 10 km north of the Burma Army’s Maemaw base near the SSA’s Loi Kawwan stronghold since mid February. “They are also repairing and expanding the motor road to Maemaw,” Lt-Col Gawnzuen, Commander of the Kengtung Military Region, based in Loi Kawwan. “Reports say heavier weapons will be brought in.”
The SSA has 4 major bases along the Thai-Burma border: Loi Taileng, Loi Lam, Hsanzu and Loi Kawwan.
The Burma Army meanwhile is still going through a major reshuffle, substituting its competent commanders with new blood, an undertaking that might likely occupy it until the end of March, according to junta sources.
2006 was the only year when no major offensive was launched against the SSA. “The Burma Army however was pretty much preoccupied with its operations in Karen, Kayah (Karenni) and Sagaing areas,” said a Thai security official.