Thu 14 Mar 2013
Filed under: Inside Burma,Military,News
Yesterday fresh fighting between Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) and Burma army occurred when the Burmese army opened fire at an SSPP/SSA soldier who left the base to fetch water near-by in Tangyan Township, northern Shan State. Afterward, Burma army continued its assault to overrun the SSA base and the fight continues until today, local sources said.
“The Burmese troops from Infantry Battalion 291 shot at our soldier, who was climbing down to fetch water at the mountain base. From there, the Burma troops advanced to overrun our base at 3.30 pm local time. The clashes lasted until nightfall; and this morning the fight renewed,” said a commander.
It is reported that from 3.30 to 7.00 pm, Burma army from Battalion 291 based in Lashio attacked the SSPP/SSA base 192 at Loi Zay, located on Tangyan – Monghsu highway on the way to Mongkao, Tangyan in northern Shan State. Today (13 March) troops from Infantry Battalion 33 and Light Infantry Battalion 326 have reinforced the attackers since early 6.30 am until the time of writing this report at this afternoon, said a commander in the field. (It continued until well after sunset, according to sources)
“Battalion 291 had forced local Lahu militia to lead the way. Therefore, the militia men were among the fatal casualties. There were 10 killed yesterday. We don’t want to accompany the army but we were forced to. Today Burma army have reinforced their troops and the fighting is still going on,” said a local Lahu village headman.
“The fight is fiercely intense. We have therefore sent reinforcement from Battalion 192 to our troops to the Loi Zay (where Battalion 199 is defending itself) base. We can’t help if the peace process is broken,” said an anonymous SSPP/SSA officer from headquarters.
Similarly, on March 11, in Kenglom area, Kunhing Township in southern Shan State, without prior notice Burma army intruded the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) territory, which resulted in a clash. It is said that both sides sustained casualties. Related to these casualties, RCSS/SSA officer said that there were two death casualties and one sustain injury on government side. However, the group spokesman Maj Lao Seng has neither confirmed nor commented on the information.
The reason for Burma army’s attack of SSPP/SSA Loilan base, located in south of Tangyan, in northern Shan State earlier was to cut off the connection between SSPP/SSA and UWSA, said Col Sai Htoo to the media on March 12 while attending the Kachin Independence Organization(KIO) – Myanmar government peace talks in Ruili, China, as a representative of the SSPP/SSA.
Col Sai Htoo answering the media at KIO – government peace-talks
“They [Burma army] gave the pretext that the relocation of the SSPP/SSA base is for eradication of illicit drugs. The government insists that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) needs to use the base to land its helicopters. We cannot withdraw from this Loilan base. Previously, we have already withdrawn from some of our bases as demanded by the Burma army. We have been stationed at this base for ages; and we have already told the government troops not to come. Nevertheless, they insist, so the fight has broken out. Geographically, the Salween River has been the borderline between our regional bases and UWSA. It is likely that they [Burma army] want to cut off our connections and communication,” said Col Sai Htoo.
“The Loilan base is a strategic region for UWSA and SSA troops” said Mr Aung Kyaw Zaw, an observer of Sino-Burma trans-border warfare and politics. “If you withdraw your troops from this base, you have nowhere else to stay but to jump into the Salween. If you were to lose Loilan, the Burma Army would gained an upper hand over Panghsang and Pangyang. UWSA areas can be threatened with heavy artillery. There is no more place for SSA to withdraw,” Aung Kyaw Zaw added.
“Fierce battle has been fought between SSA and government troops on February 18 – 22. SSA has officially lodged complaint against Burma army to President Thein Sein. The fighting stopped after the latter ordered its army a restraint,” said Col Sai Htoo.
Although both sides suspended the fighting there, the Burma army has not yet withdrawn its troops from the SSA territory. Troops from Military Operations Command (MOC) 2 and Military Operations Command (MOC) 17 and their subordinate troops have been stationed in the east of Mong Hsu and 1,000s of troops have been reinforced, he said.
Following the interview, the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalions 33 and 291 and Light Infantry Battalion 326 attacked the Loi Zay base, north of Loilan.
The RCSS/SSA and the SSPP/SSA are two armed groups who have signed ceasefire agreement with the Naypyitaw government at the union level.