Traders in eastern Burma have stopped importing goods overland into the country following fears of fighting between Burmese troops and ceasefire groups.
Tension is rising in Burma’s border regions as the deadline passed yesterday for ethnic ceasefire groups, many of whom control territory close to Burma’s borders with China and Thailand, to transform into border guard forces.
Border trade points have reportedly seen very little activity in the past week, while a trader in Tachilek, a prominent crossing point for goods entering and leaving Burma into Thailand, said that few Thais had made the crossing. Similar reports were heard from Mong Ywang and Keng Tung, both in Shan state.
“Security is tight with unusual numbers of troops deployed at the border checkpoints,” he said. “They are searching vehicles at checkpoints on the roads. We heard the bridge [between Tachilek and Thailand’s Mae Sai] will be shut down today.”
Meanwhile, Keng Tung residents told DVB that a senior Northern Military Command officer had travelled to the Mong La special region to meet with the Mong La ceasefire army, which is wavering over whether to transform into a border guard force.
The meeting has reportedly alarmed locals who are fleeing to nearby areas. “Government workers in Mong La came back to Keng Tung about two days ago, in fearing that clashes would break out if the meeting didn’t turn out well,” said one resident.
“Both the government and the Mong La group have said they will not take responsibility [for the government workers] if clashes break out.” Keng Tung residents said that Burmese army vehicles were being sent to the Mong La region from Keng Tung at night.
Additional reporting by Nan Kham Kaew