Police Search UWSA Liaison Office, Seize Detonators

By The Irrawaddy 12 April 2017

RANGOON — Police seized thousands of detonators and ammunition during a search of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) liaison office in Lashio on Saturday following an incident with a local office member. The UWSA claimed the search was unlawful.

The search happened after UWSA liaison office deputy economic coordinator Ah Hong—aka Tun Tun Aung—shot his gun during a dispute with his wife Ma Phyu Hnin Aye at her home in Taunggyi on April 7.

The officer was arrested and detained by Taunggyi police and his gun and ammunition were confiscated. The police also found 10 used shells and a broken window in the home.

The Burma government said the incident would be handled in accordance with the law.

President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay said, “The state police are acting in accordance with procedure, as this is a family matter but a gun threat was involved.”

He told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the government was trying to communicate with the UWSA headquarters regarding the storage of detonators and explosive materials at the liaison office, which is supposed to serve the purpose of smoothing relations between the UWSA and the government.

The UWSA claimed in its statement on Sunday that the Lashio police raided the liaison office after destroying the door. It condemned the “unlawful action of the police” and said the police exaggerated the April 7 incident.

The UWSA demanded a police apology for destroying property and urged that they do not create a bigger problem.

The statement continued that without an apology, the Wa had the right to respond to the intrustion by any means necessary.

The Irrawaddy could not reach the UWSA for comment at the time of this article’s publication.

U Zaw Htay said the Wa’s allegations were untrue and that police acted officially with search warrants, which local administrators witnessed.

He added that when Lashio police arrived at the liaison office, a woman and a translator were there but officer in-charge U Thar Hlan was not as he was traveling back to Panghsang, the capital of the Wa region.

“When the Lashio police searched the building, U Thar Hlan’s door was closed. They used a locksmith to open it with a key and found 3,000 detonators, 750 feet of copper wire and M22 ammunition,” U Zaw Htay said, adding that if the detonators were combined with gunpowder, it would be easy to create an explosion.

The Wa statement omitted the April 7 incident, U Zaw Htay said, and added that the government asked peace negotiatiors to find out if Wa headquarters knew about the incident or about the release of the statement.

The Irrawaddy reporter Kyaw Kha contributed to this report.