A member of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) was killed in what is believed to have been an alcohol-related shootout with government security forces in the border town of Myawaddy early Friday morning.
Locals said that a DKBA lieutenant, Linn Naing, was drunkenly driving on the town’s Kyangin Road at around 1am on 19 September, crashing into several parked cars. Residents then called the government troops, who quickly arrived at the scene.
Saw Zorrow, a liaison officer for the Karen National Union in Myawaddy, which lies along the Thai border, said the troops blocked the road ahead of Linn Naing and ordered him to get out of the vehicle. The rebel soldier opted instead to pull out a gun, at which point the troops opened fire.
“Local residents told the security forces that someone was crashing into parked vehicles, so they came and blocked the road,” Saw Zorrow said, “but he kept on driving and crashed into the security vehicle. They told him to get out, but he pulled out his pistol instead.”
Linn Naing was shot and seriously injured, and he died two hours later in Myawaddy Hospital. An unidentified passenger was also shot and is being treated at the hospital.
Tun Tun, a senior official in the DKBA, confirmed that the group is aware of the incident and plans to conduct an investigation.
“We are aware that the incident took place,” he said. “One of our men was killed and another was injured.”
Maj. Tun Tun added that recent tensions in the area, which is a high-traffic trade hub on the border between Burma’s Karen State and Thailand, have resulted in heightened security comprising Border Guard Force and Burmese army troops.
“We will look into what really happened and discuss it with the Burmese officials accordingly,” he said.
Several recent and alarming incidents have caused security to tighten up on the Thai-Burmese border.
The Burmese army allegedly issued an order on 14 September for several of the state’s smaller ethnic armed groups to refrain from wearing uniforms or carrying firearms into the town.
News of the order followed an incident where one armed group known as the KNU/KNLA Peace Council blockaded a roadway, stalling delivery of about 30 truckloads of goods headed to Burma from Thailand.
Earlier this week, two small explosives were found and defused in the town. No one has yet been accused or claimed responsibility for the bombs.