UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Fierce fighting erupted on Thursday between Burmese army and rebels who launched unprecedented attacks on military academies and a police station that killed at least one person, in a possible retaliatory attack to seize large quantities of drugs.
Armed ethnic groups have been fighting for decades against the military, sometimes each other, to seize land and resources in eastern Burma.
Experts say the region is now the largest methamphetamine-producing region, contributing to a complex network of conflicts.
Thursday’s attack targeted the tourist town of Bien-o-Loen near the city of Mandalay, which also houses barracks crammed with soldiers receiving military training.
Pictures in the local media showed bullet holes and destroyed buildings littered with rubble.
The Taeyung National Liberation Army announced attacks in response to attacks by the military.
“The fighting took place in five places this morning,” military spokesman Mai Aik Kyaw told AFP, referring to continuing clashes between the two sides.
One of the attacks was aimed at defensive academic services for technology services where military engineers were being trained, while another targeted a police station near the famous Joktik Bridge, a railway that attracts tourists.
A spokesman for the National Taiong Liberation Army said his platoon launched the escalating attacks in coordination with the Burmese National Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army.
The Arakan army is fighting the army in West Rakhine State.
Army spokesman Brigadier Zhao Min Tun confirmed the five attacks, noting that one civilian had been killed so far in the crossfire and two soldiers were wounded.
“We believe they launched attacks because the army seized tons of drugs weeks ago,” Zaw told AFP.
In July, police faced a fierce artillery attack when they launched a drug seizure campaign in Shan state. Anti-narcotics police then seized a huge stockpile of millions of dollars of methamphetamine.
The “Golden Triangle”, which includes lawless territories in Burma, Thailand and Laos, has become a major base for the production of opium, heroin and new drugs.
The ceasefire in Shan State, officially announced by the military in December, is due to expire in two weeks despite continuing clashes with armed groups in the area.
China’s plans to invest in major infrastructure projects in the region have added another dimension to the conflict for groups competing for control of increasingly valuable land.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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