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REPORT ON BURMA ARMY USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
September 5, 2011
We have posted a report prepared by a Shan activist, Hkun Hom, based on information provided by the Shan State Army - North. The report describes an attack by the Burma Army against the SSA on June 3, 2011, using what are believed to be chemical weapons. If true, this is a war crime by Burma's military regime.
On June 3rd, the Burma Army launched a major attack against the SSA's Wanhai headquarters. The attack began with an extended artillery assault, after which BA troops engaged in a battle with the SSA. Even though the SSA troops were far outnumbered, the BA suffered some twenty killed in action casualties.
Following the battle the BA removed their dead and wounded. They then fired a short volley of mortars, four shells in total. These landed some eighty meters from an SSA outpost. The mortars released an unusual smoke, which drifted with the prevailing winds over the outpost. Of the SSA soldiers located there, one died and the others suffered immediate and debilitating health problems. They were ultimately evacuated to a hospital in Thailand for treatment. Their blood tests revealed a number of abnormalities, consistent across all the soldiers, but the Thai doctors were not informed that they were the victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack.
The SSA are calling for doctors who are proficient in this type of medicine to review the results. They are willing to cooperate with additional investigation.
Other gas attacks have been reported in previous years, as well as the delivery of chemical weapon mortar shells to the Burma Army from North Korea. The International Community should take these allegations seriously, and act decisively to ensure that such attacks are not repeated.
One possible explanation for the attack is obvious. The Burma Army suffered great losses in the Wanhai battle. Their local commander decided to retaliate. The gas mortars were purposely launched so that they would land upwind from the SSA position, and the gas would drift over it.