WAR:Shan army’s key bridge burnt down

A key bridge of the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’, Ta Pha Hsawng crossing of Lawng river, a tributary of the Pang, between 3 townships: Kehsi, Mongyai and Hsipaw, was burnt down by the Burma Army troops who attacked the SSA there on 21 June, according to SSA sources.

The bridge was important for the SSA to cross through to its bases around its former headquarters Hsengkaew, Hsipaw Township, now a Burma Army controlled local militia base.

“It doesn’t matter much to lose that bridge because we still have other paths to choose. But it was a big loss for the populace because it was them who were mostly using it,” an SSA officer said.

The bridge, 160 ft long, was constructed of wood in 2008 by the SSA. It cost about Kyat 1,100 million (US$ 14, 013), said the SSA.

“It is the so-called government’s army destroying the bridge instead of building it. It was a wrong act by the government,” the SSA officer said.

In addition, the SSA base located at the Ta Pha Hsawng Bridge was occupied as well after being heavily shelled by the Burma Army on 21 June from around 8:00 until 20:00. The attack was reported to have taken place after the SSA allowed the Burma Army to enter its territory due to a Burma Army officer’s request.

“They said they did not come to attack us. They just wanted reconnoiter the terrain as they have never been there. We had allowed them to enter. But their words and deeds did not match because they did not withdraw from our area and attacked us instead with heavy weapons,” an SSA officer from the battlefield recalled as saying.

The attack killed 2 Burma Army soldiers and wounded one of the SSA fighters.

Regarding the Burma Army’s act, a border analyst from the Thai-Burma border commented that it is obvious that the ethnic armies are still easily being suckered by the Burma Army.

What happened to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is another example.

On 9 June, Colonel Aung Toe, Tactical Commander of Mongmit (Moe Meik) township, northern Shan State, reportedly asked the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to allow his troops to enter KIA frontline territory to inspect the Taping Electrical Power Plant. His troops however refused to move back and were reinforced by more troops until fighting between the two sides broke out, according to the KIA’s press release on 20 June.

“It was evident that the trip by Colonel Aung Toe was in fact a ploy used to intrude into KIO territory. They later insisted they would not retreat and started attacking the KIA until it could occupy the KIA’s strategic mountain, Bum Sen,” the report said.

Lt-Gen Yawdserk, Chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), a political wing of the Shan State Army (SSA) that has been fighting against Naypyitaw for decades, commented that the Burma Army’s tactics could be compared to “a boa gradually winding itself around its prey before making the decisive squeeze.”

“It is time for the ethnic armed groups to wake up and fight back, otherwise they will be totally destroyed by the Burma Army one after another,” Yawdserk said.

The Burma Army has occupied 5 of the SSA’s bases including Ta Pha Hsawng, since the launch of its Zwe Man Hein campaign in March.

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