Over the past few weeks hundreds of Burma army reinforcements have been deployed to the Pangwa area in northeastern Kachin state, in order to shore up pro-government border guard force (BGF) units, according to a former member of the militia.
A major point of trade between Burma and China, Pangwa was the long-time 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). In 2009 the NDA-K officially ceased to exist when its standing army of about 1,000 troops was absorbed by the national BGF.
The NDA-K was the successor to a Kachin Independence Organization unit led by Ting Ying's that broke-away in 1968 to join forces with the Burma Communist Party (BCP). In 1989 following the complete collapse of the BCP, Ting Ying with the support of troops under his command created the NDA-K, quickly reaching a ceasefire with the central government. The NDA-K's deal with Burma's military regime enabled the group to profit from the cross border timber trade at Kambaiti and Pangwa during a period that saw vast clear cutting of forests in Kachin state.
Elected as an MP in 2010 Ting Ying has been an active supporter of the military's campaign against the KIO and was photographed last year distributing guns to ex NDA-K turned BGF troops in Pangwa. Since the fighting began in June 2011 Tin Ying has repeatedly called on the KIO to withdraw from Pangwa or face being “crushed”.
Despite Ting Ying's very public cheer-leading, BGF units comprising of his old troops have fared particularly badly during the last two years of fighting. Dozens of Kachin BGF troops are believed to have been killed during heavy fighting around Pangwa.
According to sources close to the ex NDA-K troops the high death toll inflicted on their units is a direct result of their Burmese military superiors repeatedly sending the Kachin BGF units first into battle against the KIO, while the regular army troops await more favorable conditions.
In another a related development sources in Kachin state tell the Kachin News Group that large numbers of government troops are also headed towards the KIA's 1st brigade region in the Kachin Triangle Area (between the Mali Hka and N’Mai Hka rivers). Some of the reinforcements are said to be heading south from Putao district's Machyangbaw township. While other units are reported to be have arrived in the area from the Myitkyina-Sumprabum highway. With others said to have been shipped in from the upper N’Mai Hka river area, in advance of what many observers believe could be a planned dry season offensive. Last month Burma army troops repeatedly attacked KIA military units in the 1st brigade region, ending a relative lull in fighting in the area.
Although the KIO and the government's negotiating team reached a 7-point agreement in May that aimed to reduce the fighting in Kachin state, clashes between the military and the KIO have increased since late August. The KIO says that the recent clashes in Kachin's northern Putao area and parts of northern Shan state is a result of Burma's central government not adhering to their own promises.
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