Joint Forces Concentrate on Mortar Attacks against KNU
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Joint Forces Concentrate on Mortar Attacks against KNU

By SAW YAN NAING Thursday, June 11, 2009


Burmese and Democratic Karen Buddhist troops (DKBA) have fired more than 200 mortar rounds in clashes with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7 in Pa-an District in southern Karen State since early June, according to Karen sources.   

The Burmese army fired six mortar rounds on Thursday morning, at least 19 rounds on Wednesday and about 30 rounds on Tuesday, sources said.    

In this photo released by Free Burma Rangers, a Karen mother and her baby flee in the rain from the clashes between Burma army and Karen guerrillas. (Photo: AP/Free Burma Ranger)
About 100 soldiers from joint Burmese and DKBA forces have been killed or injured in the fighting while two soldiers from the KNLA were injured, according to a Karen relief group. The KNLA is the military wing of the Karen National Union (KNU).   

David Takapaw, the vice chairman of the KNU, said that about 20 soldiers from the joint force have been killed and about 40 injured. “The more they [DKBA soldiers] come, the more they die. The Burmese army is just firing mortar rounds,” he said.   
Sources said the joint force has not launched ground attacks because of extensive KNL landmines around their positions.  

Poe Shen, a field director for Karen Human Rights Group, said dead and injured soldiers from the joint force were mostly DKBA soldiers forced to fight in the frontline positions while the Burmese army stays behind and fires mortars.     

About 10 Burmese battalions—numbering about 2,000 soldiers—under Military Operation Command 4 based in Rangoon Division’s Phugyi recently arrived in southern Karen Sate as reinforcements, according to Burmese military sources.    

One Karen source close to the DKBA said that more troops from the Burmese army are coming. He said DKBA soldiers have arrested civilians traveling along the Moei River near the combat zone and forced them to serve as porters and soldiers.  

The mortar attack is designed to weaken KNLA forces and will likely be followed by a ground attack, said a source close to the DKBA.  

The joint force plans to attack KNLA Brigade 7 until it has removed it from the area it controls. One source said the joint force is prepared to lose 500 soldiers in the operation before it seizes the KNLA area.     
Due to the clashes, an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 Karen villagers have been displaced, with many arriving in Thailand as refugees. Many villagers are also hiding in the jungle in Karen State, according to Karen relief groups.     

Sally Thompson, the deputy executive director for the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium that assists refugees, said, “The people want to able to return to their villages as soon as possible. But, we don’t know if the situation would allow it or not. There is no ground attack at the moment. But, there is still shelling in the areas.”

The most recent attacks were being launched by Burmese battalions under Light Infantry Division 22 and DKBA battalions 999, 555 and 333. The force is reportedly about 9,000 soldiers strong, according to Karen sources.     

Meanwhile, Kyaw Ye Min wrote in an article in a state-run newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar, on Thursday that the regime has managed to make peace with other ethnic armed groups for national reconciliation, but KNU troops have showed no sign of wanting peace with the government. 

The writer said, “There remains only a handful of KNU remnants, and they are taking shelter at the refugee camps in Thailand. Then, they frequently leave their camps, secretly enter Myanmar, and wage guerrilla attacks.”

“However, the government has still opened the peace door to the remaining groups. This has been said again and again,” the writer said.

The newspaper rebuked the Thai government for its recent criticism of the trial of the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It said the Thai government is not a good friend and is interfering in Burma’s internal affairs.  

 “If you cooperate with us with genuine goodwill and consider yourself as a good friend, there will be no burden or threats at your border due to [the] internal affairs of Myanmar [Burma],” the article said.

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Tom Tun Wrote:
To Okka,
Since 1962, (1) National Security council (2) Burmese Socialism party (3) State Law and order restoration council ( SLORC ), (4) SPDC, (5) Swan Ashin and may be there are a few more thuggish names I have missed out. If the readers knows them please fill in the blanks. You and your masters make people of different religions believe that the Karen are the rebels attacking the civillians. Soon enough you will learn a good lesson.

thar wa Wrote:
yea right KKK..stronger than before but losing to the bark of the dog, even. I hope both will come together and work out a better solution to this conflict among the Karens

KKK Wrote:
To Okkar:
The DKBA are not Karens. They are the junta's hunting dogs. They don't have common sense. That's why we don't call them Karen. We call them the DHDA (Democratic Hunting Dogs Army).
The KNU is stronger than before. The KNU is not only in Thailand and Burma, but everywhere now. You will see more and more of the KNU in Burma soon.

sawlu Wrote:
The KNLA never target Burmese civilians as their enemy. The SPDC always beats Karen civilians, but they will never beat the KNLA soldiers, who will never fade away.

Sawpyaj Naythorn Wrote:
I think the Burmese government wants to clear the border before holding the election in 2010. It also wants to weaken the Karen armed groups, not only Karen but also other armed groups too.

Okkar Wrote:
It is quite amusing to see the crocodile tears of David Takapaw. How can anyone differentiate between the KNLA, KHRG, KNU? They are all the same people, just different names. When they are winning, they claim credit as KNLA fighters, when they are losing they cry they're KHRG refugees, when they need some kind of legitimacy for political purposes, they call themselves KNU. It's just the same "insurgents" using different names.

It is quite interesting to see that the losses on the DKBA side are always reported but KNLA losses were never disclosed. Why is that? If the DKBA was so badly beaten by the KNLA, why are the KHRG and KNU crying about being attacked by the DKBA? More to the point, why are there so-called "refugees" fleeing the area. Their own press release doesn't even make sense.

One thing is certain—the KNU insurgency has now come to an end. It will be put down like the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka. The days of the KNU are numbered without Gen Saw Bo Mya.

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