Thursday, March 17, 2011

Burmese troops overrun SSA-N base in Nam Lao

Thursday, 17 March 2011 19:18 Jai Wan Mai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – After two days of fighting and a massive bombardment, Burmese troops seized the Nam Lao base of the Shan State Army – North (SSA-N) on Wednesday.

Troops of the Shan State Army-South in parade formation.
Shan State Army-North troops are now engaged in pushing
back a major attack by Burmese regime troops after they
overran the Shan base at Nam Lao. Photo : Mizzima
Many soldiers were wounded on both sides during the fighting, sources said. There were no reports on deaths.

The Nam Lao base in Mongo Hsu Township is the second largest base of the SSA-N and a strategic military gateway offering it access to its ally, the United Way State Army (UWSA) in Pang sang in northern Shan State.

A SSA-N source said the decision to withdraw from the Nam Lao base was a result of  the heavy shelling. Moreover, shells from the Burmese army allegedly landed on villagers’ houses and left at least one civilian wounded.

On Wednesday, about 500 to 600 villagers in the Mongo At tract of Mongo Hsu Township fled to the town for safety after Burmese troops continued to press their attack on Shan troops. The SSA-N said a number of villagers could have been killed or wounded.

During the fighting, a Burmese shell reportedly hit Nam Lao temple, killing four novice monks and injuring three more, sources said.

According to a SSA-N officer, after its forces withdrew from Nam Lao, the Burmese army was also able to seize another base, Lois Pang Koop, which is located nearby.

A local resident said, ‘The Burmese troops fired more than 100 rounds of artillery.  During the attack, many of them stepped on landmines which had been planted by the SSA-N’.

A SSA-N officer said regime trucks with wounded soldiers were dispatched to Lazio after the battle.

He said some of Shan soldiers were also wounded, but there were no deaths.

‘They came to attack us’, he said.  ‘It wasn’t the SSA that launched the attack, but we had to defend ourselves. We withdrew from Nam Lao base because we do not want the villagers to suffer’.

After the battle, the Burmese regime deployed troops from Tangy an to Nam Pawing sub-township in Lazio. Consequently, a clash took place between the SSA-N and Burmese troops at Na Ma, a Nam Pawing sub-township.

Reportedly, Burmese troops conscripted Nam Lao villagers as porters and pursued SSA-N fighters in the area. Villagers from Ho Nam and nearby villages fled to Mongo Hsu for refuge, sources said.

A Shan source said that SSA-N troops retreated to their main base at Wan Hay (SSA-N Headquarters), and it’s believed that Burmese troops may launch an attack on the base.

According to a resident in Lazio, ‘The Burmese troops have blocked all vehicles going to Wan Hay and the SSA-N soldiers will not be able to access the UWSA or SSA-S areas’.

In the meantime, a source in Tactile said that two weeks ago 40 to 50 trucks carried about 500 Burmese soldiers from King Tong to Mongo Yang. The troops set up temporary camps along the borders areas of the UWSA and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) territory in eastern Shan State, the source said. The deployment was designed to block any assistance from the NDAA or UWSA to aid Shan troops.

Reportedly, Burmese troops from Mongo Hsu and Mongo Nan are headed to the SSA-N headquarter area. About 1,500 to 2000 Burmese troops are believed to be deployed in the area.

According to a source, Burmese troops are spreading rumours that SSA-N soldiers must surrender by March 20.

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