A Karen rebel fighter was killed and another injured when a clash broke out on 27 September in Pegu [Bago] Division between Burmese government forces and the Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO), an armed faction of the Karen National Union (KNU).
A KNU liaison officer in Taungoo District told DVB that a firefight erupted on Saturday afternoon in Kyaukkyi after troops from the Burmese army’s 361st Light Infantry Battalion entered territory held by the KNDO 3rd Battalion without prior warning.
Kyaukkyi KNU liaison officer Saw Maung Aye confirmed that one KNDO soldier was killed and another injured in the skirmish.
He accused the Burmese army of provoking the clash by repeatedly encroaching into KNU territory without informing the Karen command ahead of time.
“Our central leadership will be speaking to government officials about the incident – we assume that this means the Burmese army does not want peace,” said Saw Maung Aye.
Burmese Information Minister and government spokesperson Ye Htut told DVB on Monday that the clash occurred due to a misunderstanding and a lack of demarcation, but insisted it had no connection to the recent fighting between a Burmese unit and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) in Myawaddy.
“The clash was due to a misunderstanding between both sides on the ground,” said Ye Htut. “But there’s absolutely no link between this incident and the fighting that took place in Myawaddy last week.”
Asked about the alleged encroachment into Karen territory, Burma’s Information Minister said, “The Burmese army battalion, unaware of the geographical boundaries, ended up in [KNDO] territory.”
He added that military commanders on both sides “have the utmost wish to see peace since they are the ones who have to spend all their time at the frontline”.
DKBA liaison officer Saw Soe Myint told DVB on Monday that a further clash had occurred that day between Burmese and DKBA forces in Kyarinseikgyi Township with two injuries confirmed on the DKBA side.