Saturday, June 20, 2009

Junta deploys more troops along Shweli River

Written by KNG

More troops have been deployed along the Shweli (Ruili in Chinese) River in northern Shan Sate in Burma since early this month by the ruling junta, said local sources.

Over a dozen ferry stations are located along the Shweli River (N'Mau Hka in Kachin) and Burmese troops are stationed at these stations, a local eyewitness told KNG today.

The river divides Shan and Kachin States. Strategically Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers cross the river on their way between the general headquarters in Kachin State and its 4th brigade in northeast Shan State, said local residents.

At the moment
No. (33) Light Infantry Division from Ywataung in Sagaing Division,
No. (58) Infantry Battalion (IB) from Waingmaw town and
No. 437 Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) from Momauk (N'mawk in Kachin)
are operating in the area along the left and right flanks of the river, according to local travellers.

Except No. (33) Light Infantry Division, different Infantry and Light Infantry Battalions are operating there in rotation for short periods, said local sources.

No. 12 and No. 27 KIA battalions are based in the north of the river. The KIA’s 4th brigade and its three battalions are stationed in the south west of the river, said KIO sources.

KIA officers in the area feel deployment of Burmese troops could be aimed to check KIA soldiers from crossing the river from the different ferry stations along the river and isolate the KIA 4th brigade from the headquarters in Kachin State.

The KIO has been pressurized to convert its armed-wing the KIA into a battalion of a "Border Guard Force" since April. The KIO has been given a deadline of October to respond to the junta proposal, said KIO sources.

As a response to the junta, the KIO is now into two missions---

launching a civilian and organizational awareness campaign on transforming the KIA
while KIA troops have been ordered to stand by for defensive action against the Burmese Army as in the pre-ceasefire period.

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