The Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) had just fought the 23rd engagement against a Burma Army column that had trespassed on the territory under its control on Wednesday, 18 July, according to local sources.
The fight took place east of Na Piem village, Hsipaw township, 16:15-16:45 between the SSA’s First Brigade, commanded by Maj Hseng Fa, and the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion 41, based in Lashio. The Burmese column was said to have suffered at least 10 killed and 15 wounded.
Sai Mawng, 22, who was forced to serve as a guide for the Burmese column was among those killed. Hsaw Kianghai, 38, of Hsai Liang village, who was tending buffaloes near the battlefield was also taken into custody by the column as a suspect. “He is yet to be released,” said a fellow villager. “We fear he won’t be coming back at all.”
According to the SSA, its liaison officer in Lashio was informed by the regional command in at advance that the column would only go as far as Na Piem and not beyond it. It remains to be seen how the regional command would respond to the clash that had taken place. The two sides had recently fought for the possession of two strategic hills in Monghsu, south of Lashio. It was the SSA that had retreated on both occasions.
The meeting of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the umbrella organization of which the SSPP/SSA is an active member, held on the Thai-Burmese border, 17-18 July, noted that 3 of its members that had reached ceasefire agreement with Naypyitaw were still being “forced to fight”:
SSA (Shan State Army) 23 times
KNU (Karen National Union) 2 times
KNPP (Karenni National Progressive Party) 1 time
As for the KIA that has yet to reach agreement, it has already fought 1,640 times since the 1994 ceasefire was violated by the Burma Army on 9 June 2011, reported Irrawaddy.
The Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), the sister organization of the SSPP/SSA, that had also fought 24 times, noted that the reason the clashes that have taken place even after ceasefire agreements were signed, was because the Burma Army did not cease its military activities, especially “area clearing” and “area control” operations.
The UNFC is made up of 11 member organizations: 5 of which have ceasefire status with Naypyitaw (KNU, KNPP, SSPP/SSA, Chin National Front and New Mon State Party) and 6 that have yet to reach agreement (KIA, National United Front of Arakan, Wa National Organization, PaO National Liberation Organization, Lahu Democratic Union and Palaung State Liberation Front).
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