BANGKOK: The head of Myanmar’s military government has charged that a major offensive in the country’s north-east by an alliance of armed ethnic minority organisations was funded in part by profits earned by one of the groups from the region’s lucrative drug trade, state-controlled media reported on Thursday (Nov 9).
The allegation made by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing came after his government was caught off guard by fierce fighting in several towns in the country’s north-eastern border region.
On Oct 27, the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, branding themselves the Three Brotherhood Alliance, launched a coordinated offensive in northern Shan state.
The military has acknowledged losing control of three towns in the northern Shan state, including a major border crossing point for trade with China, but has not explained why the army failed to put up an effective defence.
“Today’s problem in Shan state (North) was triggered by narcotic drug problems,” the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper cited Min Aung Hlaing saying at a meeting on Wednesday of the state National Defence and Security Council.
“Earnings from narcotic drugs were spent on seizing power through the armed struggle. Such a plan was covered by drug production and trafficking.”
The group he accused of drug trafficking, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, denied his allegation.
Large-scale drug production and trafficking have long been rife in Myanmar’s border areas, historically involving opium and heroin, and in the past decade methamphetamine. The drug trade has been attributed to various ethnic minority groups for funding their armed movements, but members of the army, especially at the regional level, have also been accused of involvement.
Source: Channel News Asia