Myanmar declares ethnic Shan rebels as terrorists
Shan rebels have been fighting the junta for autonomy in the eastern Shan state on Myanmar's eastern border with Thailand.india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 13:20 IST
Myanmar's military government has declared a group of ethnic Shan rebels as terrorists, blaming them for a range of attacks over the last decade, state media reported on Saturday.
The declaration by the home affairs minister, Major General Maung Oo, was printed in official newspapers and named the Shan State Army-South as a terrorist group led by rebel leader Ywet Sit.
The statement accused SSA-South of "shooting innocent people to death for no apparent reason, detonating bombs, torching houses in villages and abducting villagers with the intention of creating public bloodshed and panic."
Myanmar has increasingly begun referring to its opponents as terrorists, including the opposition National League for Democracy led by detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Analysts have said that declaring its rivals as terrorists could forebode a new crackdown by the junta.
Shan rebels have been fighting the junta for autonomy in the eastern Shan state on Myanmar's eastern border with Thailand.
Shan rebels have split into several factions, but the SSA-South is one of the largest with some 5,000 members.
More than a dozen other ethnic minorities, including the Karen National Union (KNU), the oldest and largest, have fought against the government for decades although most have signed ceasefires in recent years.
Last month, the government claimed that a group of 848 fighters from the SSA-South had surrendered and handed over their weapons.
Human rights groups accuse Myanmar's military government of gross violations against ethnic Shan villagers.
Human Rights Watch last year accused Myanmar of waging a campaign of torture, rape and execution against ethnic Shan villagers and forcing the displacement of thousands.