July 10, 2009 (DVB), The Karen National Union will defend their territory "with guerrilla warfare" following rumours that the pro-junta Democratic Karen Buddhist Army is preparing to attack a strategic Karen base.
Last month Burmese troops, supported by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), took the Karen National Union (KNU) Brigade 7 base, an important victory for the Burmese government in its five-week long offensive.
Rumours have surfaced in recent days that the DKBA is set to attack the KNU Brigade 6 base, home to three battalions, although permanent bases have not existed there since 1997.
"I heard that [the DKBA] are preparing to fight with 600 people, but nothing particular has come out yet," said KNU joint secretary, Saw Maw Htoo.
"As we have more than 60 years of experience, the KNU has always been alert and prepared. Now we have to be more prepared; we are ready to resist with guerrilla warfare."
The conflict between the KNU and the Burmese government is thought to be the world's longest running, although observers say the weakening of the KNU and the loss of its Brigade 7 base could spell its end.
Around 80,000 Karen refugees have fled the conflict and are now holed-up in camps along the Thai border.
Numbers have swelled since the beginning of June, following the latest offensive which caused around 5000 to cross the border into Thailand.
"DKBA and [Burmese army] troops are positioned everywhere all along the border," said Saw Maw Htoo, adding that KNU troops were active in these areas.
"We have our people all around the area, and they don’t know where to fight. They come in, we go out; we go out and they come in."
A deputy strategist from the DKBA's Brigade 999, Saw Maung Win, claimed to know nothing of the attack rumours.
However a source close to the DKBA, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a joint DKBA force from Battalions 555 and 333 have gone to Taungoo and Nyaunglebin in Karen state to attack KNU camps.
"They went there because of an order from the top," he said, adding that he did not know whether the order came from senior DKBA or army officials.
Reporting by Naw Noreen