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Clashes continue between DKBA faction and junta troops

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Fighting between junta troops and units from a breakaway brigade of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army continued after days of clashes in border areas, yesterday near Myawaddy, on the Burmese side of the border with Thailand, and at Kawkareik, further west, according to DKBA sources.

At least 1,000 refugees fled the fresh battles over the weekend, escaping to the south of the Thai frontier town of Mae Sot and joining about 200 who had left late on Saturday when the clashes began, some of many such battles in Dooplaya District this month, ethnic armed groups and Reuters reported. 

DKBA battalion 902 led by Colonel Kyaw Thet and a junta battalion under Military Operations Command (MOC) 12, fought for about three hours near Phalu village from 8 a.m. yesterday morning.

“Junta troops fired 81 and 120 millimetre mortar shells against us so we fired back … There are some casualties,” a DKBA central battalion officer told Mizzima.

On Saturday and Sunday, DKBA battalion 902 ambushed junta troops from Infantry Battalions (IB) 61, 547 and 230 as they were being sent to reinforce comrades in IB 907, 404, and 549 in Myawaddy Township.

The DKBA said 20 junta soldiers had died and 30 were wounded in the past three days, figures Mizzima was unable to confirm.

Meanwhile, DKBA troops led by Colonel Kyaw Boo and junta troops from IB 907, 404 and 549 engaged near Wawlay and Sagawhak villages in Kawkareik Township yesterday morning, Major Kyi Aung from Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) battalion 102 told Mizzima.

A Myawaddy resident said yesterday: “We could hear the sounds of heavy weapons coming from the direction of Phalu this morning. So we are worried that the fighting would break out in Myawaddy, too. Today, when my son went to school, my wife waited for him in front of the school as we were very worried.”

A bus-ticket seller also in Myawaddy said fears about the proximity of the fighting were widespread, as shown by the few passengers using public transport.

“We dared not go out after we heard the heavy gunfire … So, trishaw (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) drivers could not get customers. Me, too! … there were no customers today. The fighting badly affected our businesses,” he said.

Although the 1,200-odd refugees who had fled to Mae Sot over the weekend were sent back to Myawaddy by Thai authorities early yesterday, many had returned to the Thai side of the border, fearing further violence. The number of refugees was still unknown.

As the junta was sending more troops to Karen State, more fighting could break out in Burma’s eastern Karen State, DKBA and Karen National Union (KNU) spokesmen said.

Fighting broke out in a few locations within Dooplaya District, Burma on November 8 as DKBA splinter battalions seized parts of Myawaddy, across the Moei River from Mae Sot. At least 20,000 villagers crossed into Mae Sot and five Thais were wounded when rocket-propelled grenades landed on the Thai side. At the same time, other breakaway DKBA units took over Payathonsu, a town about 333 miles (535 kilometres) south of Myawaddy near Three Pagodas Pass, sending at least 2,500 refugees into Sangkhlaburi, Thailand.

DKBA Brigade 5 under Colonel Saw Lah Pwe, aka Bo Moustache, has refused junta orders to bring his troops into the government’s Border Guard Force (BGF) under Burmese Army command. Ten days ago, 38 of the splinter group’s members rejoined the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the KNU, long-time foes of the DKBA, which broke from the KNU and signed a ceasefire deal with the junta in 1994. The KNU refused to sign. 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 December 2010 01:56 )  

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