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KNLA ambush passenger truck in Karen state

Dec 19, 2007 (DVB), A Democratic Karen Buddhist Army-run ferry truck travelling between Kawkareik and Myawaddy towns in Karen state was ambushed by the Karen National Liberation Army yesterday, reportedly leaving eight dead.

The KNLA claimed its brigade (6) battalion (18) was responsible for the attack, which took place at around 8:30am.

A witness said that the attack took place just outside Kawkareik township.

"The KNLA troops appeared and started firing on the truck. The fired machine guns down from the mountains as well," said the witness.

"Most of the people hit were passengers. I saw seven people killed on the spot , two females, two males, a young child, and two DKBA personnel."

The witness said that the driver of the truck was also hit on his shoulder.

An official from KNLA brigade (6) said that the attack was in retaliation for DKBA's actions on behalf of the ruling State Peace and Development Council.

"The DKBA comes into our territory and burns down villages. Instead of protecting its own people, the DKBA is acting as the SPDC’s tool and kicking people out of villages, leaving the locals displaced," the official said.

"This ambush is to show that we can fight as much as they can."

The official claimed that four DKBA officers were killed in the attack.

A DKBA official said he could not confirm the story.

"We have not yet confirmed whether the truck ambushed was one of ours. Some of the trucks are just registered under the DKBA’s name. There are so many groups operating in this area," the official said.

The KNLA ambush followed an attack on Ta-au Khee village by troops from SPDC Light Infantry Battalion-210 and DKBA battalions 907, 906, 902 and 333.

Late on Monday evening, the troops came into the village and set fire to rice storage facilities, causing the villagers to flee, according to a villager who is now at the Thai-Burma border.

As they ran away, four villagers were injured when they stepped on landmines planted outside the village.

Following this incident and prior to yesterday's attack, the KNU issued a statement warning people not to use the ferry trucks.

According to the KNU, the KNLA and DKBA have clashed over 100 times in 2007 alone, including at least three ambushes.

Reporting by Htet Yazar and Saw Kanyaw

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