Monday, 31 August 2009 20:55
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta has taken pains to explain to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) that its recent war on the Kokang armed group was to nip in the bud production of narcotic drugs and arms and ammunition by the ethnic ceasefire group.
A junta delegation led by Col. Thet Pone from Northern Military Command Military Affairs Security (MAS) met ethnic Kachin leaders on August 29 in Laiza Hotel in KIO’s headquarter in Laiza. Col. Thet Pone told them that the Kokang ethnic group led by Peng Jia Xing was into manufacturing arms and traded in drugs.
On the KIO’s side, the Strategic Command Commander Brig. Gen. En Banla, Vice Chief-of-Staff Col. Guan Mau and Secretary Dr. Laja attended the meeting.
“They made out that the Kokang group led by Peng Jia Xiang fired first at them, when they wanted to inspect their arms manufacturing unit and search for narcotic drugs. After which they had no option but to occupy the area,” a Kachin officer said on condition of anonymity.
The military government’s mouthpiece the ‘New Light of Myanmar’ reported that in the three-day clashes between the junta’s forces and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), 11 were killed and 31 injured on the Burmese Army’s side. Besides 15 policemen were killed, 13 injured and eight bodies of Kokang soldiers were also found, the news paper reported. But according to a statement issued by Peng Jia Xiang’s, about 200 civilians were killed in the two-day battle and three Chinese civilians were killed in artillery fire from government troops.
The statement added that the junta had threatened ethnic armed groups which had rejected the 2008 constitution. The regime was trying to divide and weaken them.
Military observers in the region said that about 800 Kokang troops were still moving along the Sino-Burma border. Some of them crossed into China and surrendered their arms to Chinese authorities.
A KIO officer felt that the junta had deliberately created a rift among Kokang troops.
“The SPDC (junta) launched the war, while rival Kokang groups were fighting for power, which was created by SPDC. As soon as the new administrative body was formed they set up the Border Guard Force (BGF). If Peng Jia Xiang had gone to that meeting, the junta would certainly have arrested him for interrogation,” he said.
The junta backed the breakaway group led by Vice-Chairman Bai So Cheng leading to the clashes.
The SPDC has been putting pressure on all ceasefire ethnic armed groups to disarm and transform into the Border Guard Force. There is concern that there would be similar war against other ceasefire groups which refused the junta’s proposal on BGF.
Four ceasefire groups the ‘United Wa State Army’ (UWSA), ‘Kachin Independence Organization’ (KIO), ‘Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army’ (MNDAA) and Maila group or ‘National Democracy Alliance Army’ (NDAA) formed a military alliance.
The allies, however, did not pitch in, in the war against the Kokang group. The Kachin people are concerned with the clashes between junta’s forces and Kokang forces.
The local military command in Kachin State, the Northern Command, has tightened security in the region.
The military command has restricted movement near Bala Min Htin bridge in Sitapu Ward, Myitkyina August 29 night and announced that all those who violate the restriction will be dealt with.
It has ordered closure of the Myitkyina night market after 10 p.m.