Shan rebels move out
Shan rebels move out
On the 4th day of the Thai army's "unprecedented military push", according to today's Bangkok Post, against one of the Shan State Army's base straddling the Thai-Burma border, Col Yawdserk had agreed to pull back his outposts that were "unintentionally jutting out" inside Thai territory.
Loifai, dubbed by the Thais as Doi Kham, located between Thailand's Chiangmai province and Burma's Mongton township, had been the SSA's 727th Brigade stronghold for two years, according to its commander Maj Tern-khurh.
A Thai army source told S.H.A.N. its campaign to dislodge all alien forces from the kingdom's soil would not stop with the SSA but also Karen, Karenni, Wa and even the Burma Army outposts as well.
"Wise commanders do not swim against strong currents but shape their course according to the nature of the current," he counselled.
Meanwhile, sources from Mongton report presence of a new unit, Mongpiang-based Light Infantry Battalion 360 in the areas opposite Chiangmai's Chiangdao district.
Bangkok Post, Saturday 04 October
Shan Army forced to desert base
New bid to `mollify' Burma, tackle drugs
Subin Khuenkaew and Sermsuk Kasitipradit
In an unprecedented military push seen as direct appeasement of Burma, the Third Army yesterday kicked off a move to clean up the border area of drug sites and strengthen ties with Rangoon by ejecting Shan rebels from their border outpost.
The Third Army's Pha Muang task force in charge of security along the border in the upper North yesterday surprised border watchers by pushing Shan State Army guerrillas out of their base, known as the 727th SSA division, in Doi Kham opposite Chiang Mai's Chiang Dao district.
Defence Minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya said yesterday's military operation was part of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's policy to ``clean up our own border'' to stop it being used as a drug transit point or being used by armed groups to launch cross-border attacks from the Thai side.
``We want to establish peace and maintain order along our northern border area.
``I gave them my clear instruction that no armed groups would be allowed to use our soil to launch cross-border attacks on the other side that would cause misunderstanding and tension,'' said the defence minister.
The base was commanded by Maj Tin Kruea who said Doi Kham had been used as the SSA's outpost for the last two years and he was not aware that it was on Thai soil.
The commander asked for time to relocate his base and 50 troops, deep inside Burma.
SSA leader Col Yawd Serk, who was shocked by the Thai move, said the SSA would have to comply with Thailand's wishes.
``Burma has been waiting for this day for a long time,'' he said, admitting the SSA faced a difficult future.
The military push raised speculation that the SSA's military outposts could be dislodged, including its headquarters at Doi Tai-laeng opposite Mae Hong Son, straddling the border with Burma.
``This policy shift is clearly aimed at appeasing Burma,'' said a veteran border watcher.
``It occurred when one of the premier's close relatives was put in charge of the army,'' he said referring to new army chief Gen Chaisit Shinawatra.
``They (SSA outposts) will all be removed if they are on Thai soil,'' said the defence minister, who denied the operation had anything to do with a request from Rangoon.
Gen Thammarak said Thailand had been accused of giving military support to ethnic Burmese rebel groups, which was untrue.
``It is none of our business if they [ethnic armed groups] want to launch attacks on Burma but they cannot do so from our territory,'' he said.
Lt-Gen Picharnmeth Muengmani, the Third Army commander, said troops would remove all bases held by ethnic minority groups if they were on Thai territory.
``We made our first move here because this is known as a drug route,'' said Lt-Gen Picharnmeth, a former classmate of Gen Chaisit.
Gen Thammarak said the military operation was also aimed at driving off drug traffickers.
Security sources said a huge amount of methamphetamines were still resting along the border.