A Burma Army column scouring areas along the Mekong ran into a Shan State Army (SSA) South patrol on Sunday, 18 March, resulting in a 40 minute shootout, according to SSA sources.
The fight at Loi Lan Fa Khio, located southeast of Mongyawng and northwest of Kenglarb, began around 07:00. “Villagers say 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant and 1 private were among the fatal casualties on the Burma Army side,” said Lt-Col Gawn Zeun, Commander of the SSA 1st Military Region that covers most of Shan State East. “Fortunately, we came out of it unscathed.”
Since the signing of the ceasefire agreement on 2 December 2011, the two sides have already fought 14 times. “One Burma Army officer, asked by villagers why there is still fighting despite the agreement, told them it was only between the Thein Sein government and the SSA, and not between the Burma Army and the SSA,” said a local who asked anonymity.
The SSA meanwhile says another meeting will be necessary to resolve the current difficulties. Naypyitaw however would be hard put to find sufficient time for it, during the period leading to the by-elections, its chief negotiator U Aung Min had informed the SSA chief Lt-Gen Yawdserk during their brief meeting on 5 February in Chiangmai.
On the brighter side, the SSA has established 6 liaison offices in Shan State’s major towns including Taunggyi, Kholam and Kengtung. Its officers have also been allowed to hold public meetings in Burma Army-controlled Mongton township, opposite Chiangmai.