Wa and Shan army commanders say tensions between the two armies have subsided after a “misunderstanding” caused the armies to face off opposite Chiang Mai’s Fang District in northeast Burma.
Last week, troops from the 248th Brigade of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) moved to surround the Loi Hsarm Hsip base of the 727th Brigade of the Shan State Army (SSA). Local and Thai sources told the Shan Herald that the Wa had sent down 20 truckloads of troops to the SSA stronghold.
“This morning, we saw only about six truckloads remaining,” said Teun Kherh, an SSA spokesperson. “Earlier, we had dispatched an emissary to clear up the misunderstanding.”
The “misunderstanding” started when the 727th had assigned one of its units to set up an outpost at Pong Tawng, three miles west of its base, which is considered by the UWSA to be part of the area controlled by the 248th Brigade. The SSA said the base was for the security of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who wanted to grow rice and vegetables.
Since a cease-fire agreement was reached between the SSA and the government, IDPs are increasingly facing a shortage of food assistance from aid agencies, said the SSA.
The two sides last fought in 2005. Tensions increased during June 16-19 when the SSA was reported to have set up bases inside Wa territory. The report was later found to be inaccurate.
“The one thing we should both focus on is the ongoing peace process,” said an SSA officer, who asked not to be named. “Any fighting between us will only serve to derail it.”
The UWSA signed a cease-fire agreement with Naypyitaw on September 6, 2011, followed by a SSA-South cease-fire on December 2, 2011.