Border Disorder

The Thai army platoon fanning out around the village of Wiang Haeng in northern Chiang Mai province was expecting a routine patrol. That overcast afternoon in late March, the soldiers were securing the area for a special visit by Thailand's Queen Sirikit. But along the Thai-Burmese border—where insurgents, smugglers and drug dealers hold sway—little can be taken for granted. Suddenly, the Thai troops were under fire. The enemy: a unit of the United Wa State Army, a tribal force from Burma. Allied with the government in Rangoon and notorious for its dominance of the narcotics trade, the tribal army frequently sends...

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