The Burma Army is continuing to send reinforcements into Wan Hai, headquarters of the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) in Shan State’s Kyethi Township, said an SSPP/SSA central executive committee member.
According to Col. Pein Pa, the Burma Amy from Tuesday to Thursday morning brought over 80 military vehicles carrying soldiers and equipped with heavy arms into Mong Hsu and Mong Nawng near the Wan Hai headquarters.
“[The Burma Army] said that they would swap troops, but it looks more like an operation,” said Col. Pein Pa.
The military trucks belong to Light Infantry Division 66. The Burma Army sent 31 military trucks to Mong Nawng Township on Tuesday and Wednesday and another 52 to Mong Hsu Township on Thursday, the SSPP/SSA reported.
Mong Hsu and Mong Nawng residents, after seeing the military trucks passing through their towns, expressed concern about fresh clashes breaking out in the area.
“I saw military trucks passing through the town. I don’t know why they are coming. I have seen military vehicles passing through our town before. But I haven’t seen them for a long time, and I think there might be a reason for such large-scale movements. So I’m concerned that clashes may erupt again,” Mong Hsu local Nang Hsai Han told The Irrawaddy.
Fighting erupted between SSA-North and government troops last October and November near Wan Hai headquarters, forcing thousands of locals from their homes. Over 1,000 victims remain in relief camps in Mong Hsu Township for fear of fighting and land mines.
The SSPP/SSA alleged that they heard last week that the military is preparing to attack Wan Hai headquarters. However, the party declined to comment on if the SSA-North, which is the political wing of the SSPP, is also making preparations for a possible military attack, and the military could not be reached for comment.
“We are waiting to see how much the military will cooperate with the new government while the new government is calling for peace and national reconciliation. We are expecting talks. But considering what is currently going on, Ming Aung Hlaing seems to be saying one thing and doing another,” Col. Pein Pa said.
Col Pein Pa said that the military has been attempting to put Shan State under martial law since last October, when it launched attacks on the Wan Hai headquarters.
“Frankly, they [the military] want to impose martial law in Shan State in order to implement a larger strategy. They want to use Shan State as a base from which to attack Kachin State and the Wa region. They’ve been planning this since October, before the November election,” said Col. Pein Pa.
From March 26 to 28, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) hosted a meeting in Panghsang with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), SSPP, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA).
Representatives at the meeting decided that the alliance would take joint political action against warring ethnic groups in northern Shan State in the event that they continue to fight against one another even after the alliance intervenes.
The SSPP/SSA opted out of signing the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with Thein Sein’s administration.