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<center> <bold>Rebels say 7 junta soldiers killed
Shans clash with army at Homong
Mae Hong Son, AFP
Shan State Army rebels have killed at least seven Burmese soldiers in
fierce fighting around the former stronghold of Khun Sa, intelligence
sources said yesterday.
The clashes erupted after the Shan State Army, which is fighting for
independence against the Rangoon regime, launched an offensive last week
to regain territory and cut army supply routes.
The sources said 17 police were also injured in the clashes near the
heroin baron's former stronghold of Homong , just inside the Burmese
border. There were no details of rebel casualties.
A battalion of 1,500 Shan troops was involved in the attack and seized a
significant portion of land from the army, the sources said. "We will
carry on attacking the enemy until they retreat," said Major Kam Laeng of
the Shan army.
The engagements prompted Burmese authorities to impose a night curfew in
border districts and to close all frontier checkpoints with Thailand, the
A group of around 300 refugees fled the fighting and was stranded near
the border, they added.
The SSA has around 5,000 men under arms and joined renegade factions of
Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army which fought a 20-year struggle against Rangoon
Khun Sa, wanted by the United States on drugs charges, now lives under
military protection in a lakeside villa in Rangoon.
Opponents of the junta and some foreign governments claim officials have
turned a blind eye to narcotics production in return for ceasefire