Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that hostilities had broken out between the UWSA and NDAA (also known as the Mongla Army) in an area between the town of Kengtung and the Mongla Self-Administrated Zone, officially known as Shan State Special Region-4.
“There was a clash between UWSA and NDAA units at a checkpoint on the route to Mongla, apparently over a personal dispute between commanding officials on the ground,” said the source.
“From what I know, the leaders of both militias were unaware of the situation.”
The Shan Herald Agency for News reported that Wa forces on 28 September seized control of Mongla checkpoints along the Loi Lamsong and Loi Kyusa Hills, as well as in an area called Phan Phat Mai. It reported that 150 Mongla soldiers were captured in the assault.
However, Khun Sai, director of Shan think tank Union Institute, suggested the fight could be a Wa incursion in Mongla territory under orders of the UWSA leadership.
“Apparently, the Mongla commanders had earlier requested the UWSA to withdraw its troops from that region, Khun Sai said. “The Wa units responded by saying that they were just following orders, and could not move out until instructed. So, it is clear that the manoeuvre was in fact an incursion ordered from UWSA headquarters in Panghsang.”
The UWSA and NDAA are two of the strongest ethnic armed groups in Shan State and had maintained good relations for the past 26 years.