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DKBA truce overtures a cruel trick, KNU says

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Karen National Union leadership today responded with scepticism to a recent statement from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army’s 999th Brigade tactical commander that the latter would not fight their fellow Karen.

The KNU told Mizzima that Colonel Saw Chit Thu’s comments were in fact just another cruel trick orchestrated by the Burmese regime. He had made the friendly overtures at a ceremony on June 26 honouring fallen Karen troops held at the brigade’s headquarters at Shwekokko village in Myawaddy Township, Karen State.

“This is just plan for military deception and a fabrication. They will soon prepare for a new military offensive. Let’s see,” KNU joint secretary Major Saw Hla Ngwe said.

Saw Hla Ngwe also told Mizzima about the colonel’s previous attempts to deceive the KNU. In June last year, Saw Chit Thu sent his adopted father to meet the KNU leadership with a message that the colonel and about 2,000 DKBA troops would rejoin the KNU as they no longer wanted to be under Burmese junta command. Days later the DKBA and the colonel launched a joint offensive with junta forces against the KNU’s 7th Brigade.

As a result of the offensive, the KNU lost much of the 7th Brigade’s territory and more than 4,000 villagers were forced to flee across the Thai border to refugee camps.

The joint secretary also denied recent reports that talks were being held between the KNU and DKBA by low-ranking troops.

“Such negotiations can only be conducted with the approval of the executive committee [of the KNU],” Saw Hla Ngwe said. “No one is authorised to carry out such negotiations even in informal talks. This is false news.”

“We’ve had such experiences with false hopes many times before. These rumors are always followed by a military offensive”, he said.

The KNU formed committees in the 7th Brigade’s Pa-an District, the 6th Brigade’s Kawkereik District and the 1st Brigade’s Thaton District, to give necessary assistance to DKBA troops who wished to join KNU troops instead of becoming members of the Border Guard Force (BGF) under the junta’s control.

KNU vice-chairman David Tharkapaw told Mizzima today that of late there had not been any new developments on this front.

Saw Hla Ngwe also said that DKBA troops under the control of the 5th Brigade commandant Brigadier General Saw Lar Bwe, aka Bo Moustache, were planning to launch an offensive against the KNU’s 6th Brigade in collaboration with State Peace and Development Council (the junta’s name for itself) troops, despite the fact that they were reported to have declined the junta’s request to join the BGF.

According to a DKBA battalion commander, several of its brigades including the fifth, the 333th, 555th and 999th, would join to create a Central Security Force with a total strength of nearly 7,000 troops.

Under the junta’s BGF proposal accepted by the DKBA, the DKBA was supposed to reduce its strength to 1,000 troops. This had caused major disagreements among the DKBA commanders over the expected loss of power, DKBA sources told Mizzima.

The DKBA was created in 1994 when a faction of disgruntled Buddhist Karen soldiers split from the KNU after disagreements with the mostly Christian KNU leadership. In exchange for helping to overrun the KNU’s rebel headquarters, the DKBA were handed areas formerly under KNU control, thus giving DKBA leaders such as Saw Chit Thu the opportunity to make enormous sums of money.

Many observers have reported that since 1994, the DKBA has degenerated into a ragtag drug-trafficking and extortion squad.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 July 2010 03:14 )  

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