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Burmese military officials have called on their Thai counterparts to help capture Kokang rebel leader Peng Jiasheng, who they claim is hiding in Thailand.
According to Thai news group The Manager, the request was made on Tuesday at a joint-border committee meeting in Tachilek, eastern Shan State.
A Thai border official told DVB that Peng Jiasheng and his aide, referred to as “Koda Kyun”, are believed to be running an illegal business in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province as a front to fund armed struggle in Burma.
Thai police are currently searching for him, the border official said.
Peng Jiasheng [also written Pheung Kya-shin] is the exiled former leader of the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which has been engaged in fierce hostilities against Burmese government forces in the Kokang region since February.
Peng was ousted as MNDAA chairman in a government-backed mutiny in 2009 after he shrugged off pressure from Naypyidaw to incorporate his militia into a national Border Guard Force. His headquarters in Laogai, the capital of the Kokang Special Region which had enjoyed peace under Peng’s leadership, fell to government forces and he was exiled. It is believed Peng spent the following years in Kunming, southern China, until his loyalist Kokang faction launched a new wave of attacks against government forces over four months ago.
Also raised at the 83rd Thailand-Myanmar Township Border Committee on 30 June was a recent drug-trafficking incident when Burmese nationals were arrested on the Thai side of the border, carrying weapons, more than two million methamphetamine pills (known as ya-ba) and 14 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as “ice”.
The Burmese also urged their Thai counterparts to withdraw 29 Thai army outposts stationed inside Burmese territory, in the township of Monghsat in Shan State’s Loilen District. The Thai officials in return reportedly demanded the withdrawal of ethnic Wa rebels who, they said, have been taking up positions on Thai soil in Chiang Mai Province.
The joint committee also discussed cross-border tourism, The Manager reported, following an agreement in 2007 to allow Thai citizens overland access to the town of Kengtung in Shan State in exchange for permitting Burmese to travel to the city of Chiang Mai. Burmese nationals still require a passport to cross into Thailand.