Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’’s core base Namlao in Shan State North’s Tangyan township, the gateway to its ally the United Wa State Army (UWSA), was seized by the Burma Army yesterday after heavy fighting between the two sides for almost half a day, according to sources from the SSA.
“We had decided to retreat as we were concerned about the villagers’ safety. Because they [the Burma army] just targeted the villagers’ homes and shelled on the village with heavy weapons. Another reason was our lesser firepower,” an officer from the SSA headquarters at Wanhai, south of Namlao, said.
The fighting between the two sides started since Sunday night until Tuesday evening. Fighting at Namlao, took place at around 13:00 (local time) until 18:00, leaving many from both sides injured including villagers and many homes damaged, according to a source.
Namlao is significant because it is the gateway to three crossings on the Salween connecting it with the UWSA controlled region: Tapiang Phi, Tawoon Keng and Tawoon Nawng.
According to an officer from the SSA, the junta is trying to block all the main roads along the Salween between the UWSA and SSA. And it is likely to launch the main assault after its blockage operation in the west is completed.
“Now, the roads are almost controlled by the Burma Army. Therefore, the SSA is now in difficulty to move either to the east, where the UWSA is located or the south where the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ is active,” said a local villager from Monghsu said.
The military junta’s deployment from Monghsu to areas surrounding the SSA area is still going on, the source said. “About 100 of soldiers were dispatched in 10 military trucks early this morning.”
Currently, the strength of the Burma Army troops around Wanhai is around 2,000 supported by16 armored personnel carriers.
SSA spokesperson Major Khurh Mao told SHAN earlier that they would never stick to a static defensive. It is instead to be on a mobile defensive as the strengths between the two sides are unbalanced.
Today, the group also issued a statement exhorting the people both inside and outside to continue opposing the Burma Army until it could no longer hold power.