Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wa Army Asked to Reconsider Border Guard Role

The Irrawaddy News

Following its rejection of an instruction to serve as border guards under the Burmese military, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) has been told by Burmese Military Affairs Security Chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint to reconsider its decision carefully, according to sources on the China-Burma border.

The move came after the UWSA rejected the junta’s instruction to assign its soldiers to border guard duties under a joint-command of the Burmese army.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst on the Sino-Burma border, said Ye Myint was unhappy that the UWSA rejected the instruction.

The UWSA also rejected a Burmese military order to withdraw troops from the Thai-Burma border area.

Sein Kyi, an assistance editor of the Chiang Mai-based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), said that tension between Wa soldiers and Burmese troops has increased in recent days.

One example of heightened nerves, he said, occurred on May 31 when seven UWSA vehicles stopped at a Burmese checkpoint on the Thai-Burma border and Burmese soldiers tried to inspect what the vehicles carried. He said Wa soldiers would not allow the vehicles to be inspected and an argument broke out between the troops.

Wa soldiers in the southern region are stockpiling food and supplies in case armed clashes break out, according to the news agency,

Wa soldiers now on leave reportedly have been called back to duty. Wives and children of Wa soldiers have been sent out of potential conflict zones, the SHAN reported.

The UWSA has an estimated 20,000 soldiers.

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