The Office of the Commander-in-Chief has alleged that ethnic rebels have traversed Chinese territory as they manoeuvred to wage attacks on Burmese government troops in northern Shan State in recent days.
The report, which also appeared in Burma’s military mouthpiece Myawady News yesterday, claimed that several Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] soldiers, including commending officials, were injured when one of their columns was ambushed in Mongko by some 30 ethnic rebels belonging to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) two days earlier.
The surprise attack is reported to have occurred just outside the village of Namkut in Mongko district, close to the China-Burma border. The report said that the ethnic fighters deployed both small arms and heavy weapons. When the Tatmadaw unit returned fire, the rebels reportedly withdrew.
The Commander-in-Chief’s office accused the Kachin and Palaung soldiers of using Burmese border passes to mobilise their troops from northern Kachin State through China to the Mongko frontline.
Government forces claim they conducted a sweep of the area on Tuesday, when they uncovered an abandoned campsite used by the rebels. They also reported finding Burmese ID cards in the names of two men from Kachin State, alongside two border passes that indicated the pair had recently crossed into China.
The Burmese military subsequently claimed the two men are KIA soldiers.
The KIA is the major force in an ethnic coalition of four armed groups known as the Northern Alliance. Its partners are the TNLA; the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army; and the Arakan Army.
On 20 November, the militias launched synchronised attacks on Tatmadaw security outposts in Muse, igniting a fresh wave of hostilities in the northern Shan State area. Thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes due to clashes, and many have taken refuge at makeshift shelters on the Chinese side of the border.
Beijing, for its part, has expressed its concerns over the conflict, and has beefed up its troop strength near the Shan border.
DVB reported yesterday that the bodies of nine policemen, who were allegedly killed by the Northern Alliance, were reportedly recovered in Mongko during the Burmese army sweep of the town following the rebels’ withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the Shan State government voted yesterday to proclaim the Northern Alliance a “terrorist organisation”.