US$90 million in losses due to attacks on border trade zone

General Mya Tun Oo. Photo: Reuters

Clashes between armed ethnic groups and the Tatmadaw in November in north-eastern Shan State effectively halted border trade with China, causing losses of US90.5 million in just five days, a military leader said yesterday.
“The attack on Mongko is believed to have threatened the China-Myanmar main trade route because Mongko is located at a strategic point,” said General Mya Tun Oo, Chief of the General Staff (Army, Navy and Air), at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
During the clashes, the armed groups set fire to trucks, blocked the highway seven times and killed four civilians, including two drivers.
Three-hundred armed members of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) led by Phone Tar Shwen planned to raid Mongko and Muse in the second week of November and a combined group comprised of about 200 troops of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the MNDAA attacked the Mongko outpost of the Tatmadaw on 20 November from four directions.
They also attacked eight other locations, including the 105-mile trade zone and military outposts.
Civilians were killed in mine attacks and sabotage acts of the combined troops of the KIA, MNDAA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) in the 22 November clash at the Mongko outpost and another skirmish on 1st December.
The Tatmadaw forces gained control of the Union Highway on 26 November.
The Tatmadaw is committed to achieving eternal peace in the country and the democratic system does not accept armed conflicts, said  General Mya Tun Oo.
“The Tatmadaw has opened the door to peace for inclusiveness of the peace process,” said General Mya Tun Oo, urging ethnic armed groups to sign  the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
Following the Mongko issue, he clarified the Rakhine issue, saying that the military launched area clearance operation in northern Rakhine only after nine police officers were killed in attacks on border outposts on 9 October. He also disclosed that violent attackers are still holding arms that they have taken from the police outposts and that security forces are discovering improvised explosive devices and home-made guns from attackers in northern Rakhine.
“We need time to bring the rule of law to northern Rakhine. The threat from the drug trafficking is getting bigger,” said General Mya Tun Oo, referring to the increase in the volume of drug seizures worth about Ks11.1 billion  in 224 cases from 2011 to 2015 to about Ks54.56 billion in 61 cases in 2016.
Regarding the alleged human abuses, he pledged the Tatmadaw would take serious action if evidence of abuse are found.—Myanmar News Agency

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