The Karen National Union issued a statement claiming more than 80 Border Guard Force soldiers had joined their forces in 1st and 7th Brigade in recent weeks.
The BGF was a strategy used by the Burma government to unarm, reduce the number of soldiers in the armed ceasefire groups and bring them under the direct control of the Burma Army. The recent high numbers of BGF soldiers deserting means the strategy has backfired on the government.
There is now armed conflict in Kachin, Shan and Karen States. Many of the armed ceasefire groups are reluctant to surrender their arms and ethnic identities to the Burma Army.
The Karen National Liberation Army, Brigade 7, office manager, Major General Saw Eh Hser Hser confirmed to Karen News that in early August 10 BGF soldiers, including a major deserted. The BGF soldiers also brought weapons and ammunition with them.
“10 soldiers including Major Saw Ta Bawh from BGF battalion 1014 joined us at KNLA Brigade 7 headquarter. The weapons they brought with them include a 9mm, 2 carbine rifles, 1 AR, 1 HK, 2 MA, 1 AK and 1075 bullets.”
BGF battalion 1014 is based and operates in Hlaingbwe Township and the soldiers said they joined the KNLA they didn’t want to fight their own people. They said they joined the KNLA to fight together against their common enemy – the Burma Army.
KNU issued a press release stating that another 70 BGF soldiers based in Pa-an Township quit. Together with their families, the BGF soldiers took their weapons and joined Battalion I of the KNLA’s Brigade 1.
Padoh Saw Thaw Thi Bweh, a member of the central committee said.
“Doo Tha Htoo district has sent news that over 70 BGF soldiers joined the KNLA on August 5. The first group was 42 soldiers together with their families and 30 more soldiers came later with the second group.“
The recent BGF deserting soldiers, together with their 186 family members are now staying near the western bank of Salween River.