Min Thu Tha – MON NEWS 18.JULY 2013
The government Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 581 opened fire killing 2 Mon soldiers after intruding into New Mon State Party (NMSP) controlled territory on July 16.
LIB 581 entered Thu Ma Kha Lan village, in Mergui District, Tenasserim Division at about 10.00 am. A firefight broke out ending with 2 NMSP soldiers being killed. The government soldiers confiscated their weapons and ammunition, said Captain Tha Maw Chan, the commanding officer of the Mergui District battalion.
“Our men went back to village to have a meal and take a short break. Two men were left behind to patrol. They [LIB 581] opened fire at them. There was about 10 minutes of gunfire exchanged before our soldiers were killed.”
The Burma army took advantage of the fact that most of the Mon soldiers were not in the village base, according to Captain Tha Maw Chan.
“When our men arrive at spot where the fighting happened the Tatmadaw (gov’t army) had already withdraw. After searching the area we found 4 hats that had been left by the soldiers.”The cause for the attack is still unknown. The NMSP soldiers based in the area had good relations with LIB 581 that was under the leadership of Captain Nay Myo, according to Captain Tha Maw Chan. The area where the fighting happened is only about 3 miles from the Thai border.
Even NMSP’s central committee had no explanation for the unprovoked attack.
“We don’t know the reason yet why they fired at us like this. But during the funeral ceremony of NMSP’s late Vice-chairman Nai Rotsa the Tatmadaw didn’t allow our men to use the Ye to Thanbyuzayat highway,” said an unidentified member of NMSP’s central committee.
NMSP asked for permission from the Burma army’s tactical command headquarters Sa Ka Kha 19 for visiting Tavoy [District] members to travel the highway for the funeral in late May. But the Ye Town based army headquarters refused. They told them the road is owned by the Union of Burma, therefore only the Tatmadaw could use it.
The NMSP inked a preliminary ceasefire with the central government on Feb. 25 of last year at the Stand Hotel in Mon State capital of Moulmein. The NMSP delegation led by the late vice-chairman Nai Rotsa met with the government’s chief peace negotiator U Aung Min.
The NMSP threatened to end the ceasefire if a meeting involving political talks with all the ceasefire groups didn’t take place by the end of 2012, according to party secretary Nai Hang Thar. A meeting with the government that was scheduled for Dec. 31 failed to happen.
To this day the government hasn’t met with all the ceasefire groups at once to discuss political matters.
The recent clash was the first time NMSP fought with the Burma army in a long time. Fighting didn’t even break out in 2010 when tensions were running high after the last ceasefire broke down. The ceasefire ended after the government pushed them to become a border guard force.
CREDIT EMG 18 JULY
The Myanmar military has exchanged fire with a Mon ethnic armed group after attacking their bases near the Myanmar-Thailand border in Myeik District, Taninthari Region on July 16 resulting in three casualties, according to the New Mon State Party (NMSP).
The skirmish occurred as soldiers from the army’s coastal devision attacked Thumingalan Village where the New Mon State Party (NMSP) is based, near the southern part of Thailand. This is the first encounter between the army and the MNLA who signed a fresh ceasefire in 2012.
“The station that we locally call Paungkuu was firstly attacked by the costal army soldiers. There were casualties,” Naing Talanyi, NMSP central committee member told Eleven Media on July 17.
Two soldiers from New Mon State Party and one from the government military were killed during the ten-minute long skirmish according to Tamot Chan, the regional commander of the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) – the armed wing of NMSP – who was quoted by Shwe Hintha News. The military was unable to confirm the attack.
“Their reply is they did not launch the attack. They just attacked because they thought it was the Hongsarwatoi Restoration Party (HRP),” Naing Talanyi said.
Founded in 1958, the New Mon State Party is mainly active in Mon, Kayin and Taninthari Regions, and its Mon National Liberation Army has 800 soldiers and 2,000 auxiliaries. They reached a ceasefire with the government in 1995, but the truce broke apart in 2010 when they refused to join the governments Border Guard Forces. The MNLA said it is militarily prepared to defend itself if the army should attack its bases in Myeik District.
There have been criticisms that such encounters between the army and ethnic armed groups are happening while the government is engaging in nation-wide peace talks with ethnic armed groups and could derail the fragile peace process.
NMSP is a member of United Nationalities Federal Council which represents a total of 11 ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, who are currently working with the government to establish a nation-wide ceasefire to end decades of civil war.