Thursday, 14 November 2019

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KNU attacks high-level junta convoy on Myawaddy road

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Karen National Union forces on Thursday ambushed a convoy carrying senior military officials including Lieutenant General Khin Zaw of the Defence Ministry and the junta’s chief negotiator with ethnic militia groups, Lieutenant General Ye Myint, killing at least one junta soldier killed, according to an officer from a rival Karen force.

A convoy of about 10 vehicles carrying Bureau of Special Operations commander Khin Zaw was ambushed at a checkpoint between Kawkereik to Myawaddy at the foot of Dawna mountain range in eastern Karen State. The attack hit a security vehicle in the convoy, a battalion commander with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which had reached a ceasefire deal with the junta, said.

“According to reports received from military sources, the first car in the convoy was hit in the side by a heavy weapon, which stopped the car … My soldiers said that one junta soldier was killed”, the DKBA officer told Mizzima, adding, “The situation is complex and complicated.”

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an exiled media service, reported yesterday that Military Affairs Security commander Lieutenant General Ye Myint was also travelling in the convoy and that five soldiers were killed in the attack. Ye Myint was on his way to Myawaddy to persuade ceasefire groups to accept the junta’s offer of joining its Border Guard Force (BGF), the report also said.

Khin Zaw’s entourage arrived in Myawaddy, on the Burmese side of the border with Thailand, yesterday evening and met DKBA officials, he said, declining to provide further details of the meeting.

The DKBA had accepted the BGF offer in principle but the 1,000-strong 5th Brigade led by Colonel Saw Lar Pwe, aka Bo Moustache, rejected it.

“We will accept the BGF if it can give a better life to our Karen people. But we can’t accept it because we don’t believe the junta. The people who had accepted the BGF had trust in the junta,” the DKBA battalion commander said. “But some of them are compelled and forced to accept it.”

He also said it would be very difficult to bring the 5th Brigade under the command of the junta’s border force, but that it would be just as hard for it to rejoin the KNU.

The military officials’ main goal for the visit was the brigrade’s rejection of the BGF offer, which had enraged the junta. So the DKBA were standing by to see what decision the junta will take, he said.

Some DKBA soldiers who do not want to join the BGF including battalions under command of the 999th Brigade were returning to the forest, residents of Myawaddy and DKBA sources said.
Meanwhile, co-inciding with the officials’ visit, a suspected bomb blast in Myawaddy killed at least two people and injured several others late yesterday, an official said.

The bomb, believed to be thrown from a vehicle, exploded in the town’s crowded night market at around 8:30 p.m., a security officer said on condition of anonymity.

“The area was cordoned off immediately after the blasts and victims were taken to hospitals in two cars,” he said.

In May last year, multiple bomb blasts went off while junta officials including Ye Myint were visiting Mon State capital Moulmein, also to discuss bringing ethnic ceasefire groups into the BGF.


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