Fresh tensions with Shan army have implications for Wa

As the Burma Army, fresh out of the conflict with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), continues its “regional clearance” and “regional control” operations, tensions have renewed between its forces and the Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), according to local sources.

On 9 February, Tangyan-based Infantry Battalion 33 had notified the SSPP/SSA, better known as the SSA north that its column would be patrolling areas under the control of the latter’s Battalion 192, based at Loilan, Namlao village tract, Tangyan township. The 60-strong column, after receiving a negative answer from the SSA, moved into the said areas nevertheless and ran into a booby trap set by the latter “for advance warning.” There were 4 dead and wounded, according to a local source.

Maj Sai La, spokesman for the SSPP/SSA, while acknowledging resulting tensions, said he was not in a position to confirm the number of casualties.

The SSPP/SSA is the 7th group to conclude a ceasefire agreement with Naypyitaw. Since its signing on 28 January 2012, more than 50 clashes have taken place. The most violent ones were during mid 2012, when its forces were pressured to move out from bases along the Salween to the west.

The Burma Army’s operation then had succeeded in driving a physical wedge between the SSA and its ally the United Wa State Army (UWSA) on the eastern bank of the Salween.

The Burma Army had also tried to cut off connections between the UWSA and its other ally the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) earlier. The move had prompted the UWSA to dispatch its 468th Brigade into NDAA areas in order to protect its southeastern flank.

At present, the UWSA is surrounded by the Burma Army on all sides except on the east, which borders with China, and the southeast which borders with NDAA.

Its latest ally the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), better known as the SSA South, is active in the south, behind the Burma Army lines.


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