Monday, August 31, 2009

Kokang campaign still on

Shanland - Despite victory over rebellious Kokang army announced yesterday through state-run media, the Burma Army has yet to slow down its war machine, reported sources from Shan State.

People in Muse, opposite China’s Ruili, and northwest of Kokang, were still being snatched by the official porter collectors yesterday and in Lashio, the capital of Shan State North, southwest of Kokang, civilian trucks were still in demand.

The Burma Army is proceeding with a mopping-up operation against isolated Kokang fighters who are still putting up a guerrilla resistance in the 22,000 territory, according to a source on the Sino-Burma border. Up to 30% of the original Kokang force (estimated strength, 800) loyal to the deposed leader Peng Jiasheng are believed to be still on Burma’s side of the border.

On the Thai-Burma border, militia units placed under full alert two days ago have been allowed to relax. “Civilian trucks requisitioned by the Army in Monghsat (opposite Thailand’s Mae Ai) have also been permitted to return home,” reported a local.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s Thai-border based 171st Military Region, comprising 5 brigades, under the command of Wei Xuegang, however, have yet to come down from their mountain bases. “Unlike in the past, when Wa trucks passed by Burma Army checkpoints without being searched, they are now being subjected to thorough going-overs,” said another local source.

On the other hand, sources in eastern Shan State are betting that the next target for the Burma Army should be Mongla, the UWSA’s southern neighbor and ally. Kokang that fell on 29 August is the Wa’s northern neighbor and ally.

Even Mongla, 80 km northeast of Shan State East’s capital Kengtung, has become edgy, according to them.

Yesterday, some 470 Burmans working or seeking work in Mongla were rounded up by the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) officials, loaded in trucks and dumped at Taping, the Lwe crossing that marks as the border between the NDAA and Burma Army controlled areas. “We used to have about 100 people working here,” explained one of the officials, on condition of anonymity. “But the number had jumped up to over 400 in a matter of weeks. We believe many of them, not all, must be spies.”

The Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’, that has been fighting against Naypyitaw, meanwhile is yet to issue any official statements on the latest developments in Burma. “We are still closely following the developments,” said one of the senior officers.

One Thai border source reported that the UWSA has begun liaising with the SSA South. “There has been no such thing as yet,” replied the same SSA source.

Tension between the ceasefire groups and the ruling military junta has been growing since April when the former were demanded to transform themselves into Burma Army run Border Guard Forces.

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