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News from India Newspaper (r)
"Anti-junta group formed in Burma"
"The Asian Age" Newspaper
Date June 17, 1999.
Mae Sot (Thailand), June 16: Five of Burma's ethnic minorities still
fighting the country's military government have formed an alliance to
battle the junta, rebel leaders said on Wednesday.
The announcement follows claims of territorial gains by Shan rebels in
fierce fighting with junta forces in the jungled terrain near Burma'
eastern border with Thailand.
The alliance agreement came during two days of meetings between ethnic
groups held on the Thai-Burma border, rebel leaders said.
"Now we have less forces than the military, less than 10 to one, so we
must cooperate, adapt our guerilla techniques," said Colonel Yawd Suk,
commander the Shan State Army's southern region.
Yawd Suk said the allience would cooperate in military affairs as well
as on political and intelligence issues in an afford to unify Myanmar's
struggling ethnic groups.
He said the five minority groups were the Karen National Union, who
hosted the meeting, the SSA, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Karenni
National Progressive Party and Chin National Front.
"We were planning to change our military and political strategy and
that is why we held the meeting," KNPP secretary-general Rimond Htoo
He said leaders of the rebels groups who had not yet agreed on
cease-fires with the junta agreed to cooperate.
Burma's junta has in recent years been trying to make peace with the
country's myriad ethnic rebel groups and has announced cease-fires with
a number of the rebel groups.
Htoo said an important breakthrough had been agreement on cooperation
between two groups fighting on the western border of Burma.
"These two guerrilla groups will step up military operations against
Myanmar government forces and set up lines of communication," he said.
KNU secretary-general Saw Ba Tein also at the meeting said his group
was still battling the junta at every opportunity it got.
Burma ethnic rebels on Monday claimed they had taken control of
territory around the former stronghold of drug czar Khun Sa close to the
Yawd Suk said rebels under his command took territory in fighting with
junta troops around the town of Homong lying just inside Burma.
The rebels suffered several causalities, while 12 Burma troops were
killed during the fighting since mid-May, he said.
No independent confirmation of his claims was immediately available,
but Thai intelligence sources have reported heavy fighting between
rebels and junta troops in recent weeks.
Yawd Suk said there had been three major attacks since some 1,500
rebel's troops surrounded Homong, occupied by 2,000 Myanmar soldiers.
He also added that the SSA was helped by 300 fighters from the KNPP.