Tension eases in DKBA arms dispute

Officials from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) say they have resolved a dispute with a local government-aligned militia whom the group claims seized its weapons, triggering clashes and threatening a recently-signed ceasefire with Naypyidaw.

Soldiers from a Border Guard Force (BGF) in the Myaingyingu region of Karen state stormed a DKBA base on 19 February, stealing around 30 weapons. The DKBA responded by ambushing BGF trucks that were transporting more weapons to the region.

The DKBA’s spokesperson, Major San Aung, said it had immediately asked for the caché of weapons seized to be returned, but was initially refused. “We warned that the ceasefire will be no more if we don’t get them back,” he said.

But officials from the government’s ceasefire negotiating team were dispatched for talks on 25 and 26 February. San Aung said agreements were reached to prevent future conflict between the two sides, as well as a slew of other issues, including permission for troops to carry arms in one another’s territory.

The DKBA and the Burmese army became embroiled in a bitter year-long conflict in November 2010, after a faction of the DKBA – led by Colonel Na Kham Mwe – refused to transform into a Naypyidaw-controlled Border Guard Force and subsequently attacked government positions in Myawaddy.

A similar refusal to join Naypyidaw’s Border Guard Forces led to resurgence in fighting in Kachin state in June last year.

The DKBA agreed to a ceasefire on the conflict’s anniversary last year, but relations remain volatile.

The DKBA was formed in the mid-1990s after a faction split off from the KNLA and sided with the government. The remaining DKBA troops who did not defect with Na Kham Mwe last year are now part of the local BGF.

Leave a reply