Blasts in Tachilek: Link to politics, drug trade “possible, but not likely”

MONDAY, 26 MARCH 2012 13:17 S.H.A.N.
According to sources in Shan State East, where the Saturday (24 March 2012) bomb blasts had forced organizers to cancel their annual golf tournament in Tachilek, few officials have mentioned possible connections to the political situation in the area.

The following is the one of the versions of the several reports SHAN has received.

There were 4 blasts (3 according to some) at the golf course:

around 07:00, 1 blast
around 08:00, 1 blast
around 09:00, 2 blasts

The last two blasts accrued near the 13th hole at the golf course next to the Regina Hotel. They had injured 3, one seriously.


The Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge # 1 between Maesai and Tachilek (Photo:


The event, organized by the local military in honor of the 67th anniversary of the Armed Forces Day which falls tomorrow (27 March 2012), was called off after the third explosions. “Many wondered why the place wasn’t cordoned off after the first explosion,” said a resident businessman. “That was really unusual.”

Another source said he had met no official, whether military, police or civilian, hinting likelihood of link to politics. “For one thing, the April 1 by-elections are to be held in Lashio (Shan State North) and Kalaw (Shan State South),” he explained. “Another is that all the major opposition armed groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the government.”

The groups included United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ and Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’. The SSA South leader, inquired by SHAN, had replied the group did not have anything to do with the blasts. “This is the first time we have been given the opportunity to resolve our differences politically,” he said. “We are not going to do anything to destroy that opportunity.”

There are also speculations that the drug entrepreneurs might be unhappy with the major seizures and raids taken place during the past few months:

On 13 February, the raiding party led by Tachilek area commander Col Khin Maung Soe on Pha Khao village, Loi Taw Kham Tract, Tachilek township, seized 8.7 million meth pills. No owners were arrested.

On 23 March, the day before the blasts, Punako village, Mongtoom tract, Monghsat township, was raided. The raiders include foreigners who looked like Chinese and Thai officials (A Thai security officer later said no Thai officials were involved). However, the village, forewarned of the raid, got away and the raiding party returned empty-handed.

Punako has for years been notorious for drug production.

An informed businessman in Shan State East, commented, “The connection to the drug trade is possible, but unlikely. The key drug producers are well acquainted with the local officials, at least up to the regional level.”

Some have pointed out that the explosions might have been the handiwork of soldiers unhappy with their superiors. “If there’s a dirty job to do, like fighting the SSA, it is them,” said a militia member. “But if there’s money to be had, it is always their officers.”

Naypyitaw announced on 14 March all state personnel will be receiving a monthly cost of living allowance (CLA) of 30,000 kyat ($ 38) beginning next month. “That’ll be a drop in the bucket, especially for those who are stationed along the border, where everything is expensive,” he said.

So far, 4 more bombs have been uncovered and a truck was seized on the bank of the Maesai river. “The suspects might have crossed the river into Thailand,” he said. “Or they may want the authorities to believe so.”

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