Maj Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw, Commander of Lashio-based Northeastern Region Command, has issued an ultimatum to the Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) to withdraw from areas in Lashio, Hsipaw and Mongyai townships within 5 days “if you pity the people there,” according to SSPP/SSA sources.
The ultimatum came in the wake of the 24th clash between the two sides on 18 July when the attacking Burmese army column suffered more than 10 killed and 15 wounded near Lashio.
The two sides had signed the ceasefire agreement on 28 January in Taunggyi. “We had already agreed there not to expand our forces from where we had arrived,” wrote an SSA officer. “It is because we sympathized with our people that we had accepted a ceasefire pact. The Army should also show it pities the people by not intruding into the forests.”
The rising tension and possible collapse of the 6 month old truce will hurt the people now that planting season has arrived together with the annual monsoon, said a source.
Meanwhile, the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), the SSPP/SSA’s sister organization in Shan State East, also reported of its latest clash, the 25th in the series, since it had signed truce on 2 December.
Its base in Mongpu Awn, Mongpiang township, was attacked by the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 360 at noon yesterday. The surrounded SSA troops countered by firing at the attackers from the rear, forcing them to withdraw at 15:00, according to the SSA leader Lt-Gen Yawdserk.
“I’m planning to write to President Thein Sein, and ask him to see that there is no more fighting in the country,” he said. “At first, I thought the said fights were started by the lower level units. Now I’m not sure.”
The SSA South, as the RCSS/SSA is popularly known, sent a letter to Gen Soe Win, Commander of the Burma Army and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, on 28 June following the 24th clash. “I haven’t received any reply from him,” he said. “But as things quieted down afterwards, I didn’t insist upon it.”
The RCSS/SSA is due to meet soon the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) to discuss the formation of a national peace monitoring group.