TUESDAY, 02 FEBRUARY 2010 16:41 S.H.A.N.
The unexpected killing of Mongla’s # 6 leader last week has served to steel the resolve of its ally Shan State Army (SSA) “North” to stand united against Naypyitaw’s pressure to convert all armed groups that have ceasefire agreements with the country’s military rulers, according to sources close to the leadership.
The group’s top leaders have been meeting for the third time since last December to find out how it could “please everyone” by assigning part of its at least 4,500 strong force to become a junta run home guard force.
The first and second meetings took place in December at Hseng Keow, Hsipaw township, and Wanhai, Kehsi township. The latest meeting in Wanhai, HQ of the first Brigade, started on 25 January.
The yet to be formed militia force is to be commanded by Lt-Col Kawng Tai and Maj Aung Myint, according to an unconfirmed report. So far, only over 200 fighters have volunteered to join it.
The SSA North has 3 brigades:
The First with approximately 2,500 men
The Third with approximately 500 men
The Seventh with approximately 1,000 men
HQ security approximately 300 men
Mao Valley Border Force 200 men
The group’s three top leaders: Loi Mao, Gai Fa and Pang Fa are reportedly all at Wanhai.
Until the Mongla killing, Loi Mao and Gai Fa have been considered sofliners and Pang Fa a hard liner. In addition, he is personally and politically close to the United Wa State Army (UWSA). His First Brigade covers the western flank of the UWSA.
The UWSA, on 14 November, informed Naypyitaw that it would accept the Border Guard Force (BGF) program, designed to keep all armed groups under the wing of the Burma Army, in principle but would accept the participation of junta officers only at the top level and not, as the Naypyitaw demanded, at the battalion level.
Both the SSA North and its other ally, Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), have been more or less following the same line.
U Min Ein, 58, Secretary General of the MNDAA, was gunned down by an unknown gunman on 27 January. Also considered a softliner, meaning one who preferred accommodating the Burmese generals, his killing was thought to have been engineered by them.
“We are more united than ever now,” said the source on the Sino-Burma border.