Burma deploys extra troops to Karen state

Additional troop columns are being sent to a region in Karen state controlled by a renegade group of one-time Border Guard Force troops, likely in preparation for an assault.

Two battalions were sent to Myainggyingu yesterday evening, following the deployment of two on Thursday last week. Expected fighting over the weekend did not materialise, although troops continue to arrive.

Myainggyingu region is home to the one-time Border Guard Force 1012, who last month began to refuse demands from their leaders and have since worn the insignia of the opposition Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).

A commander with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), which is fighting alongside the DKBA against the Burmese army, said that the additional troops were sent from a unit “tasked with clearing out the Myainggyingu region”.

He said that the decision by BGF 1012 to wear DKBA fatigues was seen by the Burmese army as an act of rebellion. The group said last month that they had grown tired of the lack of rations and what they claim is discrimination between the ranks of BGF 1012, the same group that in April attacked their own armoury.

The Karen opposition, whose six-decade conflict with the Burmese regime is one of the world’s longest-running, was given a boost in July last year when another faction of the DKBA broke off and turned against the Burmese army. A number of defections have since followed.

The latest deployment marks a further escalation of hostilities in Burma’s border regions, where several groups have refused to transform into government-controlled BGFs. Fighting has raged in Kachin state over the past fortnight, while Burmese troops have also launched assaults on the Shan State Army.

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