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Oct 30, 2008 (DVB), The State Peace and Development Council is said to be planning an all-out offensive against the Karen National Union, according to a source close to the military.
The source said that a leaked confidential report from infantry headquarters outlined the need to collect information on KNU positions, resources and capabilities and to monitor the movements of the Thai army along the border.
Heavy weapon stations in the area have been reinforced and provided with extra shells, the source said.
KNU information officer major Saw Hla Ngwe said the offensive was part of the regime's usual strategy.
"It is not a one-year plan to completely wipe us out, this is their strategic plan that they try to implement every year," he said.
"This is nothing out of the ordinary; they have been doing it for a long time."
Major Saw Hla Ngwe said there had only been low-level clashes so far, but added that the KNU is preparing for a larger scale attack.
"We are preparing for guerrilla warfare but we won't know what will happen until we start firing at each other," he said.
"It is like this every year, so we are already prepared."
Thailand-based military analyst Htay Aung said the SPDC was seeking to weaken the KNU to prevent them from providing support to ceasefire groups.
"Many ethnic groups have signed as ceasefire, while other major armed resistance groups like the KNU, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Shan State Army-South have not yet reached a settlement," Htay Aung said.
"The SPDC plans to disarm these ceasefire groups, so some of them are planning to revolt against this disarmament," he said.
"The SPDC thinks these ceasefire groups are being influenced by the KNU, KNPP and SSA-South to take up arms again," he explained.
"That's why they will launch some offensives against these three major groups before they disarm the other groups."
Htay Aung said a new offensive could lead to human rights abuses and an increased number of displaced people.
"If heavy fighting breaks out, the people will suffer," the military analyst said.
"Based on past evidence, whenever heavy fighting has broken out, the first thing they do is to burn down villages and carry our extra-judicial killings," he said.
"When their offensives start, people have to flee or go into hiding, and usually they flee onto Thai soil."
Reporting by Naw Say Phaw