The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) renegade faction has denied reports that its leader, Col. Saw San Aung, had been killed in a clash with Burmese government forces.
The group’s spokesperson, Ye Htet, told DVB on Tuesday that they are now back in touch with Saw San Aung who is “still alive and fighting”.
“Col. Saw San Aung is doing well – I can confirm that. He was not wounded or killed. We have restored communication with him,” said Ye Htet, though he would not specify the location of the breakaway faction commander.
The statement follows rumours that circulated speculating that Saw San Aung was either killed or critically wounded when a combined unit of Burmese army and Border Guard Force (BGF) troops overran a DKBA outpost on Wah Kloku Hill in eastern Karen State on 15 September. He had not been seen or heard from since that day.
The Myawady News, a Burmese military mouthpiece, recently reported that government forces had clashed 19 times with the DKBA renegades, also referred to as the Klohtoobaw Karen Organisation, inflicting five casualties among the rebels, including a commanding officer.
DKBA spokesman Ye Htet said the renegade militia is still fighting, but employing guerrilla tactics against the Burmese army and BGF.
“There are still clashes taking place and our troops are spread out in the area, as we are waging guerrilla warfare,” he said.
“On Monday, two BGF soldiers were injured when they stepped on a landmine we had planted along the route towards our positions.”
Intensified hostilities between the armed groups have compelled almost 4,000 villagers to flee their homes and seek shelter elsewhere in the last two weeks.
The DKBA renegades are calling on the government side to “halt its aggression” and facilitate ceasefire talks.