Karen group lose outpost to army

Apr 30, 2009 (DVB), Burma's principal armed opposition group has lost sections of a strategically important outpost near the Thai border after nearly a month of fighting between the group and government troops.

The Karen National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Karen National Union, yesterday said it has lost parts of its Walakee outpost run by Battalion 201 in eastern Karen state.

Government troops, backed by the pro-junta Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, launched the latest offensive against the battalion two days ago.

A KNLA officer said that main section of the outpost was still under their control, although the army had taken the artillery firing ground.

According to the KNLA, three government soldiers were killed in the offensive and ten were injured.

Villagers living near the base were reportedly being forced to work for the army and were running out of food, said Battalion 201 official Captain Kyi Aung.

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army split from the KNU in 1994 and allied themselves with the government.

Reconciliation talks between the KNU and ruling State Peace and Development Council, whose conflict is thought to be the world's longest running, have been on the cards for some time.

Both sides have agreed in principle to hold discussions, although the KNU have repeatedly stated that they will not disarm.

Reporting by Nay Htoo

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