Burma’s military-backed newspaper Myawady has reported that government forces clashed no less than 13 times with renegade troops of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) between 11 and 15 September in eastern Burma’s Karen State.
According to the report, the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] on 11 September carried out “combined operations” on a stretch of motorway from Myainggyingu to Maethawaw under the control of the DKBA “splinter group”, which is accused of carrying out attacks on government troops and Border Guard Force (BGF) units.
The DKBA, known to the government as the Klo Htoo Baw Karen Organisation, or KKO, had previously warned of a “war on all fronts” after one of its commanders, Maj. Nar Ma Kya, was killed on 29 September, allegedly by elephant handlers involved in a logging operation under the control of the local BGF. However, Tatmadaw mouthpiece Myawady reported that he died in a clash with the BGF.
The Burmese army has also accused the renegade faction, led by Saw Kyaw Thet and Saw San Aung, of recent bomb attacks in the Hpa-an Industrial Zone and the Fire Department in Kawkareit.
The report said that Tatmadaw personnel have provided humanitarian relief for 3,874 persons who were displaced from their homes by the fighting and who are now sheltering in Myainggyingu.
Meanwhile, DKBA renegades’ spokesperson Saw Ye Htet said the Karen militia had decided to change tactics, focusing instead on guerrilla warfare, as they had come under sustained attack by both the Burmese army and BGF.
“We have been under attack by both the Tatmadaw and BGF, and can no longer protect our defensive positions on Wah Boh Taung. So we have decided to revert to guerrilla warfare tactics,” said Saw Ye Htet.
No side has announced casualties incurred in the recent hostilities.
However, on Monday, 19 September, Burmese state media indirectly conceded that government forces had sustained a number of injuries when it reported that senior military officials paid a visit on Saturday to the military hospital in Karen State capital Hpa-an “to encourage patients who are members of the military.”
Last week, DVB reported that more than 2,000 villagers had been forced to flee their homes due to fighting in that area.