Burmese government plans to replace armed ceasefire groups with a Border Guard Force now lies in ruins among the smouldering buildings of their army camp based in Ka Ma Maunn, Karen State.
As many as 1,000 soldiers from the former Democratic Karen Buddhist Army who initially joined the BGF turned their arms on a Burma army camp at Ka Ma Maunn village in Karen State.
The renegade BGF fighters led by Major Saw Beeh caught the Burma army off guard when they attacked the camp at midnight today (30 June). A villager told Karen News the fighting was quick but a lot of weapons were fired.
“The fighting lasted about 30-minutes. There was a lot of shelling, big guns and small weapons. Shells landed in the village. Houses were on fire, a bridge destroyed and a near miss on the local hospital.”
The villager said the town was panicked.
“Children were crying, dogs barking and women were too scared to leave their homes.”
The villager said that following the fighting the Burma army has started to force recruit villagers as porters to supply their frontlines.
“All the men have run to safety as they are worried the Burma army will take them as porters.”
Military sources based on the Thai Burma border say the BGF force led by Major Saw Beeh are prepared and ready to fight.
In a recent interview with Karen News, Major General Johnny of the Karen National Liberation Army said growing tension amongst BGF and the Burma army in the last few weeks in the Myaing Gyi Ngu area, saw Major Beeh’s 1,000 strong forces combining with the Karen National Liberation Army.
The Burma army plans to disarm and dismantle all ethnic ceasefire groups and to bring them under its direct supervision has backfired. In recent months Kachin, Shan and Karen ethnic ceasefire groups have turned on their former sponsors and are now attacking the Burma army.
Samuel Blythe, a regional political and defence analyst, who also writes for Jane’s Defence Weekly, said in an exclusive interview with Karen News.
“The BGF has been a failure from the start. They have only succeeded with smaller groups because they used strong-arm tactics. The stronger and bigger groups have rejected all moves to reform into the BGF.”
Mr Blythe says the Burma army is in trouble.
“They are stretched and fighting on multiple fronts, they can continue to fight, if the heavy losses of their soldiers and officers don’t provoke internal unrest.”
Mr Blythe said the recent bombings in the major urban centres of Naypyidaw, Maymyo and Mandalay, as well as the drive-bye shootings and bombings in the town of Three Pagoda Pass, is also a major cause for the Burmese government to be worried.
“There’s potential the conflict will escalate, the situation has the potential to get uglier.”