The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has released around 20 soldiers from the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) following a meeting between representatives of the two groups last Sunday, said an SSA-S spokesman.
The SSA-S soldiers were taken into custody for trespassing into UWSA-controlled area in Mongton township, eastern Shan State, on July 31. Since then, the two groups had been in tense negotiations for the release of those captured.
SSA-S spokesman Maj Sai Lao Hseng told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that “the release came after three top SSA-S leaders met with UWSA leaders at their controlled area in the eastern Shan State town of Mongton.
“Two commanders of the SSA-S were among those detained for six weeks,” he added.
The UWSA and SSA-S also had a military standoff in mid-June when Wa troops surrounded the SSA-S camp of Lwal Kaw Wun, based in Mong Hsat, eastern Shan State, after Shan soldiers apparently trespassed into Wa areas.
The UWSA was given autonomy to rule two districts as the “Wa Self-Administered Division” in north-eastern Shan State comprised of six townships—Hopang, Mongma, Panwai, Nahpan, Metman and Pangsang (Pankham), according to the military-backed 2008 Constitution.
The UWSA, which separated from the Burma Communist Party in 1989, signed a ceasefire agreement with the previous military regime in 2009. The Wa also signed further deals with the government peace team led by previous negotiator Aung Thaung in September and October last year.
The two armed groups plan to have further negotiations to solve the border dispute so that future confrontations can be avoided, said Sai Lao Hseng.
The agenda for the talks will include collaboration to tackle the border issue and implementing the cultivation of drug-replacement crops in the region in accordance with the SSA-S anti-drug agreement with the government.