Shans meet 'Devil Force'
The infantry battalion known by the local populace as the Devil Force retreated after two futile assaults on the Shan State Army's patrol yesterday, said its chief of staff this morning.
The patrol led by Capt. Sai Pan of Kawnzoeng Column, one of the SSA's three mobile units, was attacked by IB 246 (Kunhing) at 14:55 yesterday near the bridge over Maekun, a tributary of the Salween, opposite Ban Maikai, Napupom Tract, Pang Mahpa District, Maehongson province, according to Lt-Col Khurh-ngern, Chief of Staff of the SSA. [Col. Yawdserk is the commander-in-chief.]
The IB 246 retired at 17:00 after suffering several casualties. "Our men saw blood in several places from where they launched their attacks after they left," he said.
"Our troops were jubilant," he added. "It was their chance to settle the score with the battalion that massacred hundreds of our people in Kunhing during the past five years."
IB 246 participated in the 1996-98 forced relocation program that displaced more than 300,000 villagers from central Shan State.
The Joint Action Committee, a combined setup of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Shan State Army "North" and Shan State National Army, had, on 27 July 2000, filed a protest to Senior General Than Shwe of the ruling military council, on its killings of 83 villagers on 17 May and 20 May of the same year. "It amounts to genocide," declared Gen Hsoten, leader of the ceasefire groups and a member of the JAC.
Kawnzoeng Column, commanded by Maj Wanli, had a previous brush with the same battalion on 13 May "when it came too close for comfort to Loi Taileng," the SSA stronghold, opposite Maehongson.
Dispossessed: Forced relocation and extrajudicial killings in Shan State (April 1998) by the Shan Human Rights Foundation reported that IB 246 had in 1997 killed 38 people, including an abbot from Kengkham who was tied up in a sack and drowned. Another battalion LIB 524, meanwhile, slaughtered 118, of which 96 were tortured and killed on 3-4 July 1997 in Kunmi.