Burmese army takes DKBA stronghold

A key stronghold of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) has been captured by Burmese troops after hours of heavy artillery bombardment.

The Waw Lay base inside Karen state was taken yesterday after government troops peppered buildings with heavy fire. Several houses, including that of renegade DKBA leader Na Kham Mwe, were also razed.

A DKBA official said that during the fight, Burmese soldiers captured and killed a local man, Maung Aye, who was thought to be close to the rebel faction. The official also said that soldiers forcibly recruited eight local villagers to work as porters, who were tortured.

It follows heavy fighting earlier this week in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy, which erupted after Na Kham Mwe and his troops took key military positions. The violence forced up to 20,000 refugees across the border into neighbouring Thailand, before an assault by the Burmese army eventually pushed the DKBA out.

The majority of the refugees have now returned, although stability in and around Myawaddy remains questionable. Fighting also erupted further south in Payathonzu on Monday and continued yesterday, forcing additional refugees across the border.

According to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium, there were around 5000 refugees yesterday sheltering in Sangkhla Buri, which acts as a crossing point to Payathonzu (or Three Pagodas Pass).

Although the Thai army has been helping refugees in Mae Sot to return to their homes in Myawaddy, the situation for the 5000 further south is not known.

Na Kham Mwe’s faction split from the junta-allied DKBA earlier this year when the group’s top brass agreed to government demands to transform into a Border Guard Force (BGF). The move will see troops assimilated into the Burmese army, something that Na Kham Mwe has consistently rejected.

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