Dozens of militia men from the battlefields in Shan State North’s Tangyan township are reportedly fleeing almost every week since April after they were deployed to fight against the Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), better known as SSA North or First Brigade, according to local sources reported.
Most of the deserters were from Tangyan’s Mongkao tract, where its area is connecting with the SSA controlled territory.
“There were no less than 70-80 men who have fled from their post since they were deployed together with the Burma Army soldiers to attack the SSA in March,” said a source from Tangyan. “Some would flee to the cities and other different places while some went to join other armed groups.”
According to him, there were around 30 men including their family members, who have fled and joined Shan State South (SSS) Company of Mahaja, known as the mayor of Homong since the departure of warlord Khun Sa following his surrender in 1996.
A source close to Mahaja group confirmed that the men have arrived to them but they were sent to resettle in other places for their safety.
Beside the militia men, dozens of Burma Army soldiers have also deserted from the fighting as well.
The Burma army, since 2009, has been recruiting and also beefing up local militias to reinforce its campaign against armed groups who refuse to join its BGFs program. All militia units were given military trainings as soon as they were recruited.
And when it started fighting the SSA since 13 March, it has used more militia units especially from Tangyan township in its frontline while some are to safeguard all roads and bridges leading to the SSA bases and areas along the Salween River in cooperation with Burma Army troops.
But on 15 May, the Commander of the Northeastern Region Command (NERC) Brig-Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw assigned more militia units across northern Shan State like Kawngkha militia led by Mahtunaw, and U Myint Lwin of Tamong Nge, U T Khun Myat of Kutkhai, Panhsay U Kyaw Myint of Namkham and U Keng Mai of Mongpaw (Muse township) to closely watch every movement made by the SSA from each of their assigned areas and inform the regional HQ.
The battles between the SSA and the Burma Army and had injured and killed dozens of civilians including at least 300 casualties on the Burma Army side, claimed the SSA.