Residents of Myawaddy have reported a tense atmosphere in the Burmese border town following reports that the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) is preparing for an attack.
A frontline commander for the ethnic opposition force, which has been battling the Burmese army in Karen state since November last year, said that the group was drawing up plans for an assault on the town in the near future.
“We are planning urban warfare to take down the [junta’s] equipment and buildings [in Myawaddy],” said Major San Aung. “However, we cannot tell you the exact date and time of the attack.”
One man in the town said that an explosion reportedly took place last week at the old bus terminal, although details of the perpetrator remain unknown.
“Most of the shops are closed today and there isn’t a lot of movement in the streets, although some big shops are open,” said the local, adding that rumours suggested they would begin on Friday last week following the end of high school exams.
San Aung said that fighting had broken out on Friday at an army checkpoint in Kawkareit town, around 20 miles west of Myawaddy.
In November last year the DKBA launched an attack on government positions in Myawaddy, which lies across the border from Thailand’s Mae Sot, sparking a wave of fighting that has spread across eastern Karen state and reined in other opposition Karen forces, such as the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).
Myawaddy had acted as a key overland trading point between Thailand and Burma until July last year when the cross-border bridge connecting it to Mae Sot was shut by the Burmese, with recent rumours suggesting it was down to Thailand’s alleged hosting of Karen insurgents.