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A government peace delegation met with a Karen ceasefire group on the Thai-Burma border on Tuesday to discuss weapons the militia had seized from the area’s Border Guard Force (BGF) during a clash on 5 January.
A delegation from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the government’s Internal Peace Making Work Committee met in Karen state’s Myawaddy to address the DKBA’s seizure of weapons from the BGF units.
The DKBA’s Saw San Aung, who attended the talks, said the group has agreed to return about 50 firearms seized during the clash with the BGF troops.
“We’ve already returned some of the firearms and have agreed to return the rest – we wouldn’t want this minor issue with some guns to disrupt the peace,” said Saw San Aung.
The DKBA leader Saw La Bwe, also known as Na Kham Mwe, joined the meeting held at the government guesthouse in Myawaddy, where he met with the peace committee’s Union Minster Aung Min along with the Karen state Chief Minister, the Regional Military Commander and a BGF commander.
Hla Maung Shwe of the Myanmar [Burma] Peace Centre, a group who helps coordinate peace talks between the government and dissident groups, said the two sides discussed troop positions along with regional development and improving the health and education sectors in the state.
The peace committee delegation, after meeting with the DKBA, also held informal talks with leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU), including the newly instated chairman Mutu Say Poe. The delegation also met with the Karen National Union (Peace Council) in Karen state’s Hpa-an town on Monday.
Many of the BGF’s soldiers in the area were once enlisted in the ranks of the DKBA. The BGF were created in 2010 under a plan hatched by the then ruling military government to bring the country’s ethnic militias under the supervision of the Burmese army. The move divided many of the country’s ethnic militants, including the DKBA which saw a majority of their brigades defect to the government’s side.
Since independence in 1948, numerous Karen rebel groups, which have splintered over time, have controlled various patches of jungle throughout the eastern state and fought vicious guerrilla campaigns against government-backed troops. However, in the past year both the DKBA and the KNU have signed historic ceasefires with the central government, bringing temporary peace to the war torn state.