Regime troops withdraw from KNLA stronghold

Jul 2, 2008 (DVB), Troops from the Burmese military and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army withdrew from a Karen National Liberation Army stronghold yesterday, a day after attacking the area.

The KNLA battalion 201’s stronghold is located 25 miles south of the Thai town of Mae Sot on the border with Burma and across the river from a village called Padi.

KNU information department coordinator major Saw Hla Ngwe said the fighting lasted until yesterday and some heavy artillery shells fired by the Burmese army landed on Thai soil, causing havoc among Thai villagers, who fled their homes in fear.

"The SPDC troops fired artillery rounds upon the Wal Lay Khee stronghold on Monday morning until 11am and about three shells landed on the Thai village," Saw Hla Ngwe said.

"About 200 Thai villagers had to flee their homes and took shelter in a monastery and a school building."

He said the clash ended yesterday evening when the regime’s army and DKBA troops withdrew.

The number of casualties on the two sides is still unknown.

Saw Hla Ngwe said the government’s offensive was probably in retaliation for the loss of regime troops killed in nine clashes with the KNLA in June.

"Also, they can collect tax money from local farmers if they take control of the area as well as getting themselves an open route to go in and out of Thailand," he said.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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