Burmese troops clash with Kachin rebels
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Burmese troops clash with Kachin rebels

Warfare has continued for two straight days between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) at Sang Gang position. The post is in N’mawk (Momauk) Township, in Manmaw (Bhamo) District of Kachin State, northern Burma, Kachin News Group [KNG] said.

On June 11 , the battle took place at 3pm through midnight. Today June 12, the battle started at 7am in the morning, said KIA officers at the frontline. Although both sides have casualties, the exact numbers cannot be known.

Local sources said that over and above 500 Burmese troops from more than three battalions have been deploying right through Sang Gang area.  Burmese battalions in Manmaw District are also marching into the battle zone so as to reinforce their armed forces.

The Manmaw-based Infantry Battalion No. 237, N’mawk-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 437 and Dawhpumyang-based Infantry Battalion No. 142 are taking position among the Burmese troops in the combating area, according to the KIA source.

Fighting on June 9 ended resulting both sides made an agreement of captives exchange. However, the Burmese troops allegedly broke a promise on an agreement to withdraw its troops from Kachin territory in Manmaw District. As an alternative, the Burmese side insisted that KIA troops located on a nearby mound close to their base had to move away.

As Kachin troops refused to withdraw, heavy artillery fire hit the KIA on Saturday afternoon. Due to heavy artillery bombardment, the KIO decided to close its last liaison office in the state capital, Myitkyinya. According to Kachin officials, the shutting down of its final liaison office indicates the official end to diplomatic contact channel with the Thein Sein government. The liaison officials were called back because of security concerns, KIA said. KIO’s liaison personnel arrived back at their headquarters in Laiza Saturday midnight.

It’s a sign of beginning of an all-out war between KIA and the Burmese government armed forces. In hope of setting up political dialogue, the KIO signed a ceasefire agreement with the central government on February 24, 1994 and supported the military-favored 2008 constitution.

No political dialogue happened in the 16-year ceasefire time and the KIO was intimidated to remove weapons by transforming into the Burmese Army-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF). The KIO’s closure of its liaison office in Myitkyinya indicates that over 16-year old truce has been cancelled to start a new civil war again.

According to some analysts, this incident of breaking a truce by the Burmese government is a total stupidity. Although Thein Sein government has guaranteed democracy, it even does not want to allow equal political rights toward the ethnic people.

More evidences were found also in the Shan State. Yesterday, Burma Army attacked the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) with its MA-10 mortars forcing the SSA to move back from its postion, quoting local sources, Shan Herald Agency News (SHAN) said.

The Burma Army reportedly fired dozens of shells on the Kawng Sao Merng base, located one mile east of its former HQ Hsengkaew, Hsipaw township, with its MA-`10 mortars and other types of heavy weapons from around 5:00 to 9:00, said a source from Hsengkaew militia group, formerly SSA base security force.

In the attack, the Burma Army Military Operations Command (1) used three battalions from Kyaukme based to crack down the SSA’s hundred-fighter unit.

It was hard to resist such heavy weapons as the strengths were also lopsided, said Colonel Sai Htoo, Assistant Secretary General-2, Shan State Progress Party, the political arm of the embattled Shan State Army North. SSA also did not want local villagers to be the victims of counter attacks if it did not leave the area first.

According to the SSA, its strategy on war is never to stick to a static defensive. It is instead to be on a mobile defensive as the strengths between the two sides are unbalanced. So far the number of death tolls and injuries of the two sides is still unknown.  But one villager identified as Sai Htun, 30, from Hsengkaew village, was killed by the Burma Army.

To date, the Burma Army side is still reportedly deploying more troops to SSAs new HQ Wanhai, according to local eye witnesses from Kehsi Township, Shan Herald Agency News (SHAN) said. Fighting between the two sides have been three months long since 13 March and had killed dozens of civilians including at least 300 casualties on the Burma Army side in the conflict zones. Most of the civilians were reportedly killed and injured by the Burma Army’s heavy shells, claimed the SSA.

Without addressing and honoring the political aspiration of ethnic people, the new Burmese government seems to be unwilling to end political and civil conflict throughout ethnic regions. So, it is clear that Thein Sein government is not heading toward democracy; instead it is attempting to protect a military-centered sham civilian administration.

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