Motor roads leading to Wanhai in Kehsi township, where the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ that has refused to go along with Naypyitaw’s Border Guard Force (BGF) program run by junta officers, have been closed since Sunday, 20 February, according to rebel and local sources.
Vehicles coming down from Tangyan in the north and Mongnawng in the south have been told to use other roads in order to reach other major towns in the areas, such as Kehsi and Monghsu, where the ruby gemland is located.
The latest Burma Army move follows news of the group’s co-founding of the new anti-Naypyitaw United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) on 16 February.
11 other co-founders include Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and New Mon State Party (NMSP). Three of the alliance members are ceasefire groups and 9 others non-ceasefire groups.
The declared aim of the coalition is to establish a federal union as opposed to the regime’s “federal in form, but unitary in substance” union.
More Burma Army troops are also seen by travelers and locals around Wanhai, including 16 armored vehicles and 30 military trucks full of soldiers.
“It could be a preparation for an offensive,” commented a senior officer from the non-ceasefire SSA ‘South’ whose troops are operating in the vicinity.
The SSA ‘North’ is also a close ally of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) with its base east of the Salween. The SSA ‘North’ area serves as a barricade to the latter. The two together with the KIO and another group Mongla are signatories of what is known as the Kunma Mutual Assistance Pact concluded on 16 April 2010.
The SSA North has already been attacked 4 times since last year.