A new "tie" between Wa and Rangoon
Some 4-500 Wa are still facing off besieging Burmese troops in the area north of the former Kuomingtang stronghold in eastern Shan State, according to a report by local Lahu and Shan sources.
The area of dispute is between the Namyawng in the north and Namkai in the south, both being tributaries of the Mekong. The Burmese had been trying to push armed units of their Wa ally to areas west of the Kengtung-Tachilek highway, said a Shan source from Tachilek.
There was some exchange of fire between the Wa and Light Infantry Battalion 571 between 13-15 January, according a Lahu source, but no casualties were reported from either side.
Wa billboards and posters in Paliao, where the former airfield of the Kuomingtang and fruit orchards of Wei Hsuehgang as well as his pig farms are located, were being smashed and burnt by Burmese troops, he said.
The Wa force in the area is commanded by "Yingjang Khawd" (Battalion Commander Khawd), known for his daring rescue of a Wa leader from Burmese forces in the Monghsu gemland after he was arrested on drug charges 4 years earlier. Bao Yuhua, the youngest of the Bao brothers, is his immediate commander, according to the Lahu source. (Bao Yuri, the eldest is the "political commissar" of Wa forces along the Thai border, while Bao Yuqiang, the second brother, is the supreme leader of the Wa. The third, Bao Yuliang, is the "Mayor" of Mongmai.)
Detailed reports are scarce because the local populace are being prohibited from traveling outside their immediate environs, said the Lahu source.
Border watchers say they are still following the events. "One thing that stumps us is why the conflict has dragged for nearly a month when Rangoon and Panghsang (the Wa capital) are supposed to be on good terms," said a Thai security officer in Chiangmai.
In the meantime, a meeting has been called by Gen Khin Nyunt to be held in Panghsang a.k.a. Pangkham sometime this week. All ceasefire groups in Shan State have been invited. "It is not known what's on the agenda," said a Shan ceasefire officer.