Major Han Tha, the Myeik District Regional Commander of New Mon State Party (NMSP) said that military tension between the Government and the NMSP is rising due to the Army's military activities in Htanphara Region, Bokpyin Township near Thai-Myanmar border.
He added that his troops have been alerted because Government troops are camped a few kilometers away from them. A battle can break out any time.
“Two army units are encamped around Htanphara. It seems like the units are about to attack our base in Htanphara in a few days. We have deployed our troops around the area. There will be a combat if they raid us.”
According to the NMSP, two NMSP soldiers and a government sergeant were killed, and four government soldiers severely injured during an encounter that took place on July 16, when the Army’s Light Infantry No.581 raided a base of NMSP near Thumingalan Village in Htanphara, Pyigyi Mandaing sub-township, Bokpyin Township, Myeik District.
That encounter was the first between the government and the NMSP in 18 years. Nai Tala Nyi, a NMSP central executive, said that the NMSP asked the government's Southeast Command Army to cease attacks and investigate the incident. In response, the government replied that they attacked the NMSP base by mistake. They clarified further that
the attack was aimed at the Monland Restoration Party (MRP) led by Nai Pan Nyunt.
The MRP is active in the area and separated from NMSP about ten years ago.
Major Han Tha said, “The justification is not acceptable. They provoked us without a sufficient reason. We had contacts with our bases before the encounter. They know the areas where we are active. So, it is impossible that they attacked us by mistake. I think they provoked us deliberately.”
He added that even after they submitted a report about the incident to the government's Southeast Command Army, one villager, and two NMSP members and their wives were arrested. They are still in custody. 15 houses were gutted when the government’s army torched Thumingalan Village village on July 22, leading him to conclude that Army's
explanation was groundless.
An official of NMSP’s Mawlamyaing office said that they would discuss with some members of the government’s Union Peace Making Work Committee about all those incidents in coming days.
Mon students and migrant workers staged a protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Thailand on July 29 to oppose the Army’s attack on the NMSP.
The NMSP signed their first ceasefire agreement with the former junta in 1995. But the ceasefire was broken in 2010 after the NMSP refused to transform itself to Border Guard Force. The NMSP and the government signed a new ceasefire agreement in February 2012. There was no fighting between the government army and the NMSP in the interim.