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23 killed as Burmese rebels hunt fo

Subject:       23 killed as Burmese rebels hunt for Khun Sa treasure

23 killed as Burmese rebels hunt for Khun Sa
2 Army bases attacked
Bangkok, April 21: Twenty three people were killed and
dozens wounded in a clash between Burmese soldiers and
rebels from the Shan United Revolution Army, searching
for the weapons and hidden treasure of former opium
warlord Khun Sa on April 10, Thai and rebel sources
said on Monday. About 500 guerrillas attacked two
Burmese Army jungle bases near Ho Mong, Khun Sa's
former stronghold. Ten Burmese soldiers died in the
fighting and about 40 were wounded, the source said.
"SURA commander Colonel Yod Suk said three months ago
he would come for Khun Sa's hidden weapons and if the
Burmese intercepted they would fight," the source said.
SURA his about 5,000 fighters according to the
guerrilla sources. The SURA sources confirmed the
fighting and said that 13 guerrillas were also killed
and 17 wounded in the day-long fighting at a base about
25 km north-east of Ho Mong, on the edge of Shan state
about 15 km from the Thai border, which used to house
more than 10,000 civilians and guerrillas during the
peak of Khun Sa's power in the 1980s. Khun Sa, half
Shan and half Chinese, once commanded about 20,000 Mong
Tai Army guerrillas and said he was fighting for the
freedom of Shan state. But, he was accused of using the
MTA as his personal troops to protect his heroin
business in the Golden Triangle where Laos, Thailand
and Burma meet. a US court indicted Khun Sa on heroin
trafficking charges in December 1989, and Washington
has requested his extradition to face charges in the
United States. But Burma's military government has
refused the request, saying it will deal with Khun Sa
under Burmese law. Khun Sa surrendered to Burmese
troops in January 1996 and Ho Mong has since become a
ghost town. He is said to be living a life of luxury in
Rangoon and running several business in Burma. The
rebel sources said they had heard that Khun Sa hid
weapons, jewellery and gold in Ho Mong before he
surrendered. "The former MTA officers who are now with
us knew that there was treasure hidden there before
Khun Sa surrendered," a SURA source informed. However,
the source would not say how much treasure was believed
to be hidden in the jungle, but said Khun Sa had handed
over only about one-tenth of the MTA's weapons when he
gave himself up. The MTA disbanded after Khun Sa's
surrender. (Reuter)