Fresh fighting has broken out between government troops and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South) despite the signing of a peace agreement in the eastern Shan State town of Kentung at the weekend.
Sai Sheng Murng, the deputy spokesman of the SSA–South, told The Irrawaddy that the clash occurred when deserting government troops entered a rebel-held area.
Fighting involved Light Infantry Battalion No. 65 and took place in Ponpakyin Village, Mongton Township, in southern Shan State between 11 am and 12 noon local time on Wednesday. There were apparently no casualties from the incident.
“From information on the ground, we have heard that they were wrong to underestimate their enemy and fought our troops,” said Sai Sheng Murn. “But we are waiting for further explanations because Burmese Deputy Commander-in-Chief Gen Soe Win told us no more bullets would be used after our meeting in Kentung.
“We have liaison offices. They need to contact our office if they come to our area.” According to the agreement signed on Saturday, each side would keep each other informed about troop movements and no attacks would be launched.
The SSA-South signed peace deal with Naypyidaw last week which vowed to wipe out narcotics from the region by 2015. A sticking point in negotiations was the demarcation of two sub-townships—Homong and Mong Htar—as under SSA control. The matter was sidelined until the next stage of talks with the President’s Office.
The rebels agreed a preliminary ceasefire with the Burmese government on Jan 16, but 17 clashes have nevertheless been reported between the two groups since this time.