Heavy Casualties Force Burma Army to Deploy 300 of its Border Guard Force militia to KNLA Brigade 5 to Defend its Supply Routes
Karen National Liberation Army sources confirmed the Burma Army has ordered 300 Border Guard Force (BGF) militia to its Brigade 5, Northern Karen State. KNLA officials told Karen News the Burma Army has deployed the BGF to secure supply routes it is using to transport its munitions and food supplies to its frontline bases.
Colonel Saw Htoo Ka Shaw, tactical commander of the KNLA Brigade 5, told Karen News the Burma Army is using the BGF to reinforce its depleted troop numbers because of the high casualties it suffered in recent fighting.
“The Burma Army now needs to send weapons and food rations to Papun [its front line bases] because many of its soldiers were killed. If the Burma Army does not resupply its frontlines it will lead to problems with its soldiers.”
Colonel Saw Htoo Ka Shaw said that nearly 900 BGF troops were previously based in the KNLA Brigade 5 area and an additional 300 reinforcements have now arrived in the Yan Aung area. Instead of using the former stone-paved roads, they are now building a new road with heavy machinery they brought in to send weapons and food rations.
KNU sources told Karen News the Burma Army is now strengthening its forces in an attempt to destroy the KNLA in the Brigade 5 area, and the KNLA estimates Burma Army battalions in the area have increased from 28 to 32 with four additional battalions, bringing up the number of total troops to around 4,000 soldiers.
Fighting in the KNLA Brigade 5 area is now daily. Civilians in Papun Town are fleeing from the town due to the escalation of the conflict. More than one 100 civil servants who continued serving under the military-appointed State Administrative Council (SAC) have evacuated Papun Town following a warning letter from the KNU, issued in late January, 2022.
Not all BGF soldiers are happy with their new orders. Brigadier General Saw Mote Thon, commander of BGF Battalion no. 1022, speaking at a recent Kyon Doe Township Bonfire Festival said he could not accept the increased casualties of BGF soldiers and the escalation of fighting in Brigade 1 and 5 areas. Brigadier General Saw Mote Thon said he didn’t want more fighting to intensify in Karen State.
Critics of Brigadier General Saw Mote Thon said his comments were not genuine and his stance of wanting peace is only on the surface and his real self-interest is his businesses, including running gambling and a casino complex in areas under his control.
According to a monthly report by the KNU, during the first month of January 2022, there were 322 clashes between the KNLA and the combined troops of the Burma Army and the BGF, resulting in 194 Burma Army and BGF soldiers killed and 201 injured.