More Burma army troops sent to Pangwa

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KNG News - Kachin News Group

Over the last several weeks hundreds of Burma army troops have been deployed to the Pangwa area to reinforce pro-government border guard force (BGF) units, according to one former member of the militia that didn’t want their name used for security concerns.

The area in in northeastern Kachin state is major trade point between Burma and China. Pangwa used to be the longstanding capital of the now defunct New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K); a ceasefire group led by Zahkung Ting Ying (also spelled Za Khun Ting Ring). But in 2009 the NDA-K de-banded when its army of about 1,000 troops was absorbed into the BGF.

The NDA-K is the successor of a Kachin Independence Organization unit led by Ting Ying. The military leader broke-away in 1968 to join forces with the Burma Communist Party (BCP). In 1989, following the collapse of the BCP, Ting Ying created the NDA-K. The armed group quickly reached a ceasefire with the central government. NDA-K's deal with Burma's military regime allowed the group to seize some of the cross border timber trade at Kambaiti and Pangwa resulting in extensive clear cutting of valuable forests in Kachin state.

Ting Ying was elected as an MP in 2010 and has been an active supporter of the military's campaign against the KIO. Last year he was photographed distributing guns to ex-NDA-K soldiers that were transformed into BGF troops based in Pangwa. Since the fighting began in June 2011 Tin Ying has repeatedly been warned by the KIO to withdraw from Pangwa or be “crushed”.

Despite Ting Ying's boisterous public appearances the BGF units under his command have fared badly in the battlefield since the start of the conflict. Dozens of Kachin BGF troops are believed to have been killed around Pangwa. According to sources close to the ex-NDA-K troops, the high death toll is a direct result of their Burmese military superiors repeatedly sending them first into battle against the KIO while favoring their own regular army troops for "safer" military maneuvers.

Sources in Kachin state told the Kachin News Group many government troops have been deployed to areas controlled by the KIA's brigade 1 between the Mali Hka and N’Mai Hka rivers. Some of the reinforcements are reportedly heading south from Putao District in Machyangbaw Township. Other units have arrived from the Myitkyina-Sumprabum highways. Units have also come from the upper N’Mai Hka river area in advance of what many observers claim is part of their dry season offensive strategy. Last month, soldiers repeatedly attacked KIA 1st brigade troops ending a relative lull in fighting in the region.

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