KNU army and Govt’s militia clash – both sides blame each other for shooting first

Fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army and the government’s militia, the Border Guard Force (BGF) erupted in the Weigyi area of Papun Township, Karen State last week.

Soldiers from KNLA Battalion 102 Company under the command of Lieutenant Saw Eh Ka Mwe fought with BGF troops led by Lieutenant AB Lwin from Battalion 1014. The KNLA had 20 soldiers while the BGF fought with 15 soldiers.

Both sides blamed each other for the fighting. The BGF claimed that its camp at Weigyi was attacked by the KNLA, while the KNLA response is that fighting broke out because the BGF was operating in a designated no go zone.

The BGF’s news and information secretary, Major Naing Maung Zaw, explained his position to Karen News.

“We were ambushed, one of our soldiers died and two others were injured. The two injured were sent to Myawlamyine General Hospital for treatment.”

A KNLA 5th Brigade officer, Major Saw Kler Doh, confirmed to Karen News that there was a clash.

“We received a report from our Battalion 102 that there was fighting. We are still investigating why the fighting happened. Our information regarding the fighting is different from what the BGF have reported.”

According to the KNLA’s Major Saw Kler Doh, on July 24, the BGF Battalion 1014, Battalion Commander Major Maung Chit ordered his troops to operate in the KNLA areas and ordered them to shoot KNLA soldiers.

Major Kler Doh said that KNLA Battalion 102 had earlier requested BGF soldiers not to reinforce its positions during the ceasefire period.

Padoh Saw Thawthibwe, joint secretary of the Karen National Union told Karen News.

“According to the official report of KNLA Brigade 5, there is no information about the KNLA attacking the BGF camp based at Weigyi. However, the fighting might be related to the orders [to operate in KNLA camp area and to shoot KNLA soldiers] given by Major Maung Chit [from BGF battalion #1014].”

The BGF’s Major Naing Maung Zaw said that it reported the fighting to the Unity Committee for Karen Armed Groups committee chairman, who is the KNLA’s Chief-of-Staff General Saw Johnny.

The Unity Committee for Karen Armed Groups was formed on May 28 and its members are the KNU, the DKBA, the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, the Haung Tharaw peace group, Payargone (a) Padoh Aung San group and the Border Guard Force (BGF). The committee’s aim is to unite the various Karen armed groups.

Since the ceasefire agreement between the Burma government and the KNU was signed in 2012, KNLA Brigade 5 sources claim that fighting broke out on a number of occasions in KNU controlled areas.

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