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38 DKBA splinter troops rejoin KNU

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – About three dozen soldiers with weapons from a Democratic Karen Buddhist Army splinter brigade yesterday rejoined the Karen National Union army, both sides said. Saying “we can’t stand the junta anymore”, the defectors’ act ends months of speculation over whether any “renegade” troops aligned with the junta would rejoin the Karen National Liberation Army.

thai-soldiersThe 38 soldiers from DKBA battalion 909 yesterday morning joined the Karen National Union, officers on both sides confirmed.

The 38 troops with the Wawlay-based battalion 999 led by Lieutenant Saw Steel under Brigade 5 led by Colonel Saw La Pwe, aka Bo Moustache, formally joined KNLA battalion 101 at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Steel said.

“We can’t stand the junta anymore. We cannot accept the junta’s Border Guard Force [BGF] plan. And they cheated in the recent election. That’s why we decided to join the KNU,” Steel said.

The unit brought AK-47 and M-16 rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 60 millimetre guns with them, which they presented to KNLA Colonel Ner Dah Mya and other officers yesterday.

“We are very glad to accept them. We can achieve reconciliation with them because of our common goals. So we will work together”, Ner Dah Mya said.

It was unclear how many troops remained at the jungle base of DKBA battalion 101 but KNU sources said a number were left behind.

The rejoining DKBA troops were being deployed near Kyarinnseikkyi Township in Karen State, said a KNLA commander.

According to the DKBA defectors, they had captured Burmese Army Captain Thet Naing on November 8, a junior command-level officer from Military Operations Command Eight, but released him after five days.

Myeingyingu, the Buddhist monk and influential patron of the DKBA had told his followers, now members of the junta’s Border Guard Force, to return to the jungle as proper DKBA but the bid it failed after intervention by the Burmese Army’s Southeastern Command chief on Saturday, a senior BGF officer said.

Observers pointed out DKBA troops within the BGF must be feeling the pain of a substantial loss of income, as a lot of the taxes on cross-border trade they previously charged would now have to be remitted to the junta.

Some DKBA leaders met KNU leaders to discuss reuniting before they were transformed into the BGF by Naypyidaw.

The DKBA took control of some areas near the Thai-Burmese border after it signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese junta in 1995. The lands had previously been under KNU control.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 November 2010 01:45 )  

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