Senior DKBA commander killed in ambush

June 29, 2009 (DVB), A senior figure in the pro-Burmese junta militia Democratic Karen Buddhist Army has been killed in an ambush rumoured to be by the opposition Karen National Union as clashes continue near the Thai-Burma border.

Five fellow Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) soldiers were killed alongside Colonel San Pyone, commander of Battalion 7 of the Brigade 999, on 26 June, while around 10 more were injured.

A source close to the DKBA said that seven boats carrying more than 20 DKBA members from the overrun Karen National Union's (KNU) Brigade 7 headquarters was ambushed at about 8am on 26 June.

"There must be about 20 casualties, but about six people died on the spot," he said, adding that the corpses of San Pyone and others were taken to the DKBA base in the Shwekokko area of Karen state.

The DKBA has said that the attack was carried out from Thai territory, but this was refuted by the KNU.

"The shooting did happen but not on the Thai side. It happened on the other side [in Burma]," said KNU spokesperson David Thakabaw.

"[KNU] troops retreated from the bases but there are small groups still operating around the bases."

The DKBA have been fighting alongside the Burmese army during an offensive against the KNU that began on 2 June.

Last week the KNU's strategically important Brigade 7 base was overrun by Burmese troops.

Many Karen civilians have fled the conflict this month, with around 4000 arriving in Thailand.

Many have reported instances of forced recruitment into the army either as porters or to act as minesweepers.

The UN has sent staff to the refugee areas to assess the fallout of a conflict that has attracted international attention.

Reporting by Naw Noreen

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