Heavy fighting in Shan State
Heavy artillery fire erupted this week when Shan State Army (SSA) North fighters defended their position in Monghsu Township against an estimated 10 infantry battalions of the Burmese army, said the SSA and local sources.
The SSA negotiated a cease-fire on June 22 in Mandalay, but it has failed to hold.
Local sources said there was at least one civilian dead, and soldiers were injured in the exchanges.
The SSA said on June 30 the Burmese army moved its forward base closer to its lines to stage an attack. The Central Eastern Region Commander Gen. Tun Tun Naung is reportedly directing the operation, SSA sources told the Shan Herald news agency.
Heavy weapons used in the assault included 81 mm, 82 mm and 120-mm mortars.
The fighting displaced around 300 people from nearby villages in Mong Awd and Tawng Hio tracts.
The government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) was reshuffled in May to include top military commanders in an effort to strengthen the peacemaking process.
“Aung Min (Naypyitaw’s chief peace negotiator) told us in Kengtung that now that the military was on board he was confident there would be no more fighting,” said a Shan source. “But it seems the Army has its own agenda.”
Recently, when a Burmese Army officer was asked by a village headman in Shan State South why the Army was still fighting despite a cease-fire agreement, he replied, “The government is doing its job and we are doing ours,” said a Shan source.
A recent report by the International Crisis Group, which works to prevent conflicts worldwide, said that a lasting conflict resolution with ethnic groups would require major changes at the top level of the military commanders and more accountability within the military and at the political level. Many critics of the peacemaking efforts say the top leaders in the government do not exercise real control over the military commanders in the field.
Others say the failure to achieve peace in Kachin and Shan states is affected by various groups on both sides that want to maintain control over areas that hold rich natural resources in mining, gems, timber and gold.
04 July 2012