Monday, April 20, 2009

Wa commander’s trucks destroyed, men injured in fire in Panghsang

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shan Herald) - A fire broke out in the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s Southern Region commander Wei Hsuehkang’s petrol station and teak warehouse in Panghsang on 18 April, injuring 2 men and destroyed 4 trucks, according a reliable source from Panghsang.

The fire was burning about 21 hours long from 09:18 on 18 April up to 06:00 of another day until the said two buildings were razed to the ground as it could not be extinguished.

“It could not be estimated how much the burning has cost, but all over 1,000 tons of teaks were burnt down,” the source said.

The fire had started by sparks from the welding by two men of the commander, the source added. They were reportedly working near the petrol station and the flame quickly spread to the petrol tanks.

“The two men are currently being hospitalized,” said the source.

Earlier, there were suspicions that this blaze could have been a sabotage action by unknown opponents.

“Fortunately, it happened outside of the town, not downtown,” said the source.

It happened a day after the Wa people celebrated their 20th Anniversary of the revolt against the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) on 17 April.

Many of its ceasefire alliances along the China-Burma border including Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) and the Shan State Army (SSA) “North” and many others had attended the ceremony including representative of the junta military.

However, it was attended by only low-ranking Burmese officers unlike the 10th anniversary in 1999, when high-ranking officials led by Gen Khin Nyunt himself attended the ceremony.

A Wa officer commented that they [the Wa] felt sorry about the junta’s low profile participation.

“Maybe they [the Burmese junta] don’t feel friendly to us anymore. However, we don’t want to have enemies. We only want to be friends with all.”

There are about 80 military and civilian personnel in downtown Panghsang for 20 years since 1989.

The Wa and Gen Khin Nyunt reportedly had an agreement on allowing junta presence in the Wa capital.

“According to the agreement, the Wa has the right to fix the number of junta personnel and the kind of weapons they can carry inside their domain,” Professor Worasak Mahatanobol from Chulalongkorn University told a conference in Chiangmai on 30 November 2002.

The relations between the two have strained especially after a number of heavy weapons were found in an overturned Burma Army truck on its way to Panghsang on 18 January.

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