One of the Burma Army’s objectives with the current Zwe Man Hein maneuver against the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ is to grab hold of the border areas between it and the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and it has been doing well in that respect, quoting a veteran Burma observer , Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) reported yesterday.
The Burma armed forces, supported by local militias, have occupied the crossing points on the western bank of the Salween. The passage had recently served as the linkage between the UWSA and the SSA North, during Burmese troops operation began on 13 March.
According to the said observer, the up to date demands on Mongla (National Democratic Alliance Army) to draw back its forces south of the Lwe river (a tributary of the Mekong) also appears to be an attempt to drive a wedge between the (non-ceasefire) SSA South and the NDAA. Naypyitaw has designated Monghta, as well as Kali, Kholam and Mongzang villages on the west bank of the Salween River to become new sub-townships. The latter three sub-townships will be directly controlled by the newest Middle East Regional Command.
To carry out the plan, Burma Army has been reactivated the 4 cut policy since the ceasefire groups dismissed the Border Guard Force program. According to the above Burma observer, the 4 cut campaign, includes:
(a) Cutting and blockading of communications between rebel armed groups; (b)Embargo of people and consumer goods entering rebel territories; (c) Search and destruction of core members responsible for supply, information, funds and recruits; (d) Embargo on trade to reduce rebel revenue.
The 4 cuts campaign launched 1996-98 had been in vain. It caused displacement of more than 300,000 people in 1,500 villages in 11 townships in Shan State, (S.H.A.N.) said.
Throughout these days, the SSPP/SSA’s guerillas have been ambushed the Burma Army patrols and columns on their move, resulting more casualties of the Burma Army. On 12 April, the SSA’s Brigade No. 36 made surprise attack on the Burmese soldiers near Wantong village, east of Tangyan, killing 5 and 9 wounded. On the same day, a 30-minute armed conflict in Tawng Hio village had reportedly killed 3 Burma army soldiers and 4 civilians and 6 wounded, quoting local sources (S.H.A.N.) said.
Clashes are still going on in Tangyan Township and along the Salween River. Villagers nearby were forced to porter and guide the Burma Army patrols everyday as they were not familiar with the terrain. Burma Army troops forced to porter Shan women in Tangyan Township for their operation against the Shan State Progress Party/State State Army (SSPP/SSA). The women porters are being used as scapegoats and threatened by Burma army soldiers that their lives will not be secure if the Shan army ambushes them, according to sources from the areas.
Day after day, tensions heightened between the Burma Army and ceasefire groups – the UWSA, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), SSA ‘North’ and the NDAA. Discomforts have been soaring up since the junta raises ultimatum to accept BGFs program. Both sides have been reinforcing their troops on heightened alert after none of them accepted the junta’s plan.
Although the new President Thein Sein, an ex-general, has said about the important of national unity, there is no discussion on the autonomy issue put forward by the ethnic ceasefire-groups.
Thein Sein said,”National solidarity is very crucial for our country, home to over 100 national races. If national unity is disintegrated, the nation will split into pieces. Therefore, we will give top priority to national unity.”
On the contrary, Burma army has been strengthening its troops in Shan, Kachin and Karen States planning to crack down using 4-cut tactic toward the ethnic armed forces defending their self-determination.