Myanmar’s Military Seizes TNLA Arms Cache, Mostly Chinese-Made

By The Irrawaddy 25 November 2019

YANGON – The Myanmar military has claimed that most of the 170 weapons, including RPGs and FN6 anti-aircraft launchers – which cost between US$70,000 (106 million kyats) and US$90,000 each – it seized from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) are Chinese-made.

The military also reported seizing more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition at three TNLA arms caches during searches around Homein Village in Namhsan Township, northern Shan State, on Friday morning.
The TNLA is one of the ethnic armed groups seeking greater autonomy and is active in northern Shan State near the Chinese border.

At a press conference in Naypyitaw on Sunday, the vice chairman of the military’s True News, Major General Tun Tun Nyi, said: “We are checking if the weapons are new or old. Most of them are Chinese and the total value is high.

“I’d say the TNLA has illegally acquired weapons from China,” he added.

According to the Tatmadaw (military) statement and photos, among the seized weapons were 39 M-22 assault rifles, 29 medium machine guns, 69 M-21 assault rifles, nine M-16 assault rifles, 16 RPG-7s, five RPG-2s, two 12-volt spotlights and one FN-6 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, plus 77 bags of TNLA uniforms, flags and military equipment.

TNLA spokesman Major Mong Aike Kyaw admitted that some of the weapons belonged to the rebel army but denied having such a large arsenal.

“Yes, weapons were seized from us. I don’t know how large the amount was. They might have taken them from other places and added them to those found. We don’t have that much weaponry,” he told The Irrawaddy.

In response, Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi said: “I don’t bother to argue with those groups.”

The TNLA is one of the ethnic armed groups, along with the Kachin Independence Army, Arakan Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, that have not signed the peace deal with the government. China has been acting as their peace broker.

Bertil Lintner, a veteran Swedish journalist covering the ethnic armed insurgencies in Myanmar, said China had always pursued a carrot-and-stick policy towards Myanmar.

“The carrot consists of loans, grants and supposed assistance to the so-called peace process. The stick is giving some of the ethnic groups access to China’s huge arms market, which is grey rather than black,” he said.