Karen State: 2,190 Burma Army Soldiers Killed – KNU Claims Junta Now Resorting to Airstrikes as its Ground Troops Reluctant to Fight
A Karen National Union military tactical commander, in an interview with Karen News, said Burma Army soldiers were showing signs of not wanting to fight.
Colonel Saw Htoo K’Shaw, Tactical Commander of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 5 said the Burma Army had suffered heavy casualties in its clashes with Karen troops and this had caused its rank and file soldiers to withdraw from battle.
Colonel Saw Htoo K’Shaw told Karen News; “The casualties [Burma Army] on the front lines are high. Because of the high casualties they suffered, these [airstrikes] are seen as a way of lifting spirits, but their mentality is falling apart. They are not carrying out attacks even when they are ordered to do so – lower-rank soldiers are no longer obeying them. To lift the spirits of their comrades, they’re now using airstrikes and heavy artillery.”
The Karen National Union released figures that support Colonel Saw Htoo K’Shaw claims the Burma Army is not winning the battle.
The KNU recorded a total of 3,152 conflicts in all its Brigades under its control. In 2021, the Karen National Liberation Army killed 2,190 Burma Army soldiers and wounded another 2,048. The KNLA had 42 of its soldiers killed and 130 wounded in the same period.
The KNU records show in 2021 the Burma Army fired more than 1,500 artillery shells “into villages and farms in KNU controlled areas – 31 civilians were killed and 86 wounded by military junta airstrikes and artillery shelling”.
Colonel Saw Htoo K’Shaw said the junta’s airstrikes on the KNU’s Brigade 5 were carried out as a result of its inferior position and reluctance of its ground troops to fight.
Colonel Saw Htoo K’Shaw said the junta’s airstrike are a response to its troops’ inability to invade the Hpapun-Kamamaung area. Colonel Saw Htoo K’Shaw said the military appointed State Administration Council’s firing 120 mm heavy artillery at villagers and civilian targets in the Taung Thone Lone, Kamamaung area was unacceptable.
In the early hours of January 12, the military junta carried out an airstrike on Wah Kha Der Hospital in Dwe Lo township. The KNU said it was fortunate, there were no casualties, only the buildings were destroyed.
Military sources told Karen News that fighter jets left from an airfield in Hmawbi Township, Yangon around 12:45am on the morning of January 12.
The air attack, lasted minutes but dropped five bombs, two exploded at Wah Kha Der Hospital in Dwe Lo Township while three exploded in Ler Gay Hta village.
The military junta also used an airstrike and heavy artillery to attack villages in Kawkareik Township, in the KNU’s Brigade 6 area – 11 villagers were wounded and one killed.
Karen military analysts said it is the first time in decades that the military junta is trying to fight multiple offensives against ethnic armed organizations and the newly formed People Defence Force militia. At the time of writing, ethnic Karenni armed resistance soldiers are defending villages and displaced people, around Loikaw (Karenni State) against the military junta’s jets continual aerial bombing ground artillery.