The fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army and Burma Army soldiers from Infantry Battalion 97 took place at Mae Tru Lo village when Burma Army soldiers were returning from collecting food and military supplies from Mae Wai in Mutraw (Papun) district, Karen State.
Mutraw news sources said the fighting lasted around six hours, left three military personnel killed and 27 captured including 11 wounded soldiers. The three dead soldiers included a sergeant while the captured included two company commanders and a captain.
It was reported four soldiers from the KNLA’s Brigade 5 were wounded and four civilians killed when the Burma Army fired artillery shells into villages.
Kawkareik residents close to the soldiers’ family said family members of the soldiers from Infantry Battalion 97 who were killed or arrested during fighting with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), were detained after a heated argument broke out with senior officers.
In the latest fighting on March 11 between the KNLA Brigade 5 and the Burma army troops from IB #97 which are deployed in Mae Way village, Dweh Lo Township of Mutraw (Papun) District in the northern Karen State, the KNLA killed three and captured 27 Burma army soldiers. The KNLA confiscated a large amount of ammunition, according to local news reports.
Family members of the frontline soldiers who stayed behind in the IB #97 headquarter in Kawkareik were unhappy about learning about the incidents. On March 14, 2022 senior officers from the Military Operation Command #12, which IB #97 is under its command, visited the family members at the IB #97 headquarter compound where a quarrel broke out.
Sources close to the soldiers’ family said family members of the killed or arrested frontline soldiers were upset with the Burma Army senior officer’s explanation.
“Officers from MOC #12 met with family members of the dead or arrested soldiers. The officers didn’t tell the family members the soldiers were killed or arrested. The officers were offering excuses like frontline soldiers were missing. Family members were not satisfied with the information and a heated quarrel broke out. After the argument, some family members were detained by the Burma Army.”
Kawkariek residents said family members of frontline soldiers killed blame senior officers for not taking responsibility for soldiers killed or arrested at the frontline.
The KNLA Brigade 5 reported of capturing ammunitions including two RPG 7s, one medium machine gun, four K3 mortars, two snipers, six MA2, eight MA1, six MA3, a large amount of ammunition and accessories, and more than three million kyats together with mobile phones were confiscated.
In retaliation for the heavy losses, on 13 March 2022, the Burma Army launched airstrikes on Mae Thu village tract in Dweh Lo Township and Thay Baw Hta village tract in Luthaw Townships of Mutraw District, Northern Karen State.