CHIANG RAI – Thousands of Myanmar Army (MA) and United Wa State Army (UWSA) troops are encircling one another around a strategic mountain in Monghsat township, opposite Chiangmai and Chiangrai provinces, according to Thai and Shan sources.
Pakae, the Wa outpost, one mile south of Loi Hsarm Hsoom, where the Burma Army is guarding its communication line between Monghsat and Tachilek, is being surrounded by Burmese troops, who are in turn surrounded by Wa troops. Pakae is higher than Loi Hsarm Hsoom and poses as a threat to the later.
Loi Hsarm Hsoom is 13 miles east of Monghsat and 51 miles west of Tachilek, opposite Maesai.
So far there has been no report of a shootout between the two sides. “We are not going to shoot first,” one of the Wa officers was quoted as saying by a local. “But once the first shot is fired by the Burmese, we will not confine the fight to just Pakae. We are going to carry it to wherever the Burmese troops are.”
Representatives from both sides are due to meet in Kengtung on 12 July, according to a local source. Another source added that Naypyitaw had proposed 6 July for talks but Panghsang, the Wa capital, had asked to postpone it to a later date.
The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) meanwhile says it is not taking sides. “There is nothing we cannot resolve through peaceful means,” said RCSS/SSA leader Yawdserk.
The UWSA on the other hand suspects Naypyitaw and Yawdserk must have reached agreement on cooperation against it. The RCSS/SSA officers denied. “The Wa, in cooperation with the Burma Army, had fought against Shans since 1989,” said a Shan officer. “So they naturally think we will be doing the same thing against them. They, of course, are simply wrong. We entertain no such idea. Moreover, this is the time for peace, not war.”
Altogether 13 armed movements, including the UWSA and RCSS/SSA, have signed ceasefire agreements with Naypyitaw since 18 August 2011, when President Thein Sein called for peace talks.