Regime troops launch attack on KNU

Oct 31, 2008 (DVB), Heavy fighting has broken out between the Karen National Union and regime-backed troops near the Thai border, while ceasefire groups on the China-Burma border are anticipating a new offensive.

According to a source in Mae Sot, Thailand, troops from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and government forces launched an offensive against the KNU battalion 201 base near Myawaddy.

KNU spokesperson Pado David Taw confirmed the reports, but could not give any further information.

"I know where the fighting has broken out but I don't know the details," he said.

"The fighting broke out near Galawa at around 3am this morning."

A number of DKBA soldiers were said to have been injured by landmines, but the regime forces pressed on with the assault and were able to take at least half of the base at around 11am today.

Thailand-based military analyst Htay Aung said the fighting was heavier than in previous years because the ruling State Peace and Development Council is preparing for the 2010 elections.

"This is unusual, because they are planning for the 2010 election," he said.

"That's I think the military government will mount a major offensive for two reasons: to threaten the ceasefire groups and to wipe out the non-ceasefire groups."

SPDC troops are also preparing similar offensives in Shan State Army-South and Karenni National Progressive Party areas.

Separately, according to reporting by the Shan Herald Agency for News, Chinese officials are concerned by the growing tensions between the Burmese regime and ceasefire groups along its border.

The Chinese authorities have reportedly held meetings with the National Democratic Army-Kachin, the Kokang and the United Wa State Army over the past two months to try to calm the situation.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst based on the China-Burma border, said that China could play a vital role in determining the outcome of the situation.

"China doesn't want any instability along the border because they have a lot of economic interests in that area," Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

"The Chinese are doing what they can to stop fighting breaking out," he said.

"But we don't know exactly what China is doing or what kind of pressure it will put on ceasefire groups."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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