Karen Soldier Killed in Latest Fighting, KNU Claims Government Troops Attacked First

A soldier has been killed during fighting between the Karen National Defense Organisation (that operates under the control of the Karen National Union) and the Burma Army.

The fighting took place on September 27 near Mu The’ village in Kyaukgyi Township, Pago division, where the Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion #361 was patrolling areas under the control of the KNU.

Saw Maung Aye, the KNU’s liaison officer in Kyaukgyi, said that Burma Army forces had been in the area and had fired on five KNDO soldiers from the KNU Brigade 3 killing one and wounding one.

“The enemy [government soldiers] went to a cultivation site and opened fire at our soldiers on the way back. They started shooting at our soldiers. One of our privates killed instantly while another one wounded. We have took back the dead body of our soldiers and arranged the funeral ceremony,” Saw Maung Aye said, adding that the Burma Army soldiers had also taken an M16 machine gun from the KNDO soldiers.

Karen News was unable to reach the relevant government tactical command to get further details and its comments about the armed clash.

Saw Maung Aye said that details of the incident have been reported to KNU headquarter and he hopes that leaders of both sides would find a fair solution.

Colonel Ner Dah Mya, chairperson of the KNDO warned that this kind of incident could derail ongoing ceasefire talks and the peace building process.

“This should not be happening. Leaders at the negotiation table have to find a solution on this problem to make sure it does not happen again. Otherwise, it will become obstacles for further peace negotiation.”

The wounded KNDO soldier is currently receiving treatment from a Backpack Health Worker Team at KNU Brigade 3 headquarter.

A local medic spoke to Karen News, “We were aware of the enemy approach only when the government troops invaded closed to our military post. Then everyone was shooting and suffered. We transferred the private who got the gun injuries to KNU Brigade (3) headquarter.”

Saw Maung Aye said that the latest armed clash was one in a series of incidents where Burma Army troops were breaking protocols by entering and patrolling inside KNU controlled territory.

The latest conflict comes as tensions continue to mount in Karen State and along the Thai Burma border, with fighting between the DKBA and the Burma Army also breaking out in Mon State and in the border town of Myawaddy.

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