DKBA to escalate border conflict

Factions of the opposition Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) has said it will intensify attacks on Burmese troops in and around its territory in a bid to weaken government forces fighting in the northern and eastern border regions.

Burma’s eastern frontier has been beset by heavy conflict since November last year, when the DKBA took up positions in the border town of Myawaddy. Since then a number of armed groups, including the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), have formed a nominal alliance in an effort to drive government troops out.

Officials from the DKBA’s Brigade 5, which is led by Na Kham Mwe and whose troops first launched attacks on government positions in November, met with the Myainggyingu faction yesterday. The latter had initially accepted demands to become a government-controlled Border Guard Force, but defected in May this year.

San Aung, battalion commander of Brigade 5, told DVB that both units had tabled the idea of launching synchronised attacks to hinder Burmese offenses against other ethnic groups, such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Burma’s north and Shan State Army in the east.

Rather than deploying troops to these regions, the DKBA would look to significantly weaken government forces in Karen state, he said, adding that representatives of the ABSDF and the Arakan Liberation Army were also at the meeting.

Since a United Nationalities Federation Council was formed in March, ostensibly aimed at drawing various ethnic armies under one allied umbrella, little tangible cooperation has been seen.

This is largely down to the fact that four of the six member groups – the KIA, the KNLA, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Shan State Army (SSA) – have all been engaged in heavy fighting after refusing to transform to border militias.

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