Monday, April 27, 2009

KNLA officer killed in battle

by Daniel Pedersen

Mae Sot (Mizzima) – Colonel Saw Jay of the Karen National Liberation Army and two Burmese Army soldiers are the latest to be killed in what today became a two-week long battle for the KNLA base camp of Wah Lay Kee.

All three were killed on Saturday night.

Colonel Saw Jay triggered a trip wire in the dense jungle. Details of the deaths of the Burmese Army soldiers were not immediately available.

Hostilities in Wah Lay Kee have become protracted, with morale-sapping injuries and deaths resulting predominantly from booby traps or land mines, rather than outright firefights over territory.

At this stage the KNLA holds Wah Lay Kee and the Burmese Army is on high ground about five miles away -- within mortar range.

The land in between is guerilla territory, with small bands of scouts watching and waiting.

Yesterday marked an end to three days of relative calm, as the Burmese Army recouped at base camp from heavy losses and casualties.

The injured of the Burmese Army are reportedly being treated in Myawaddy Hospital.

Last night the State Peace and Development Council or junta troops and its allies the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army began to push forward again, as KNLA braced for another assault on its main base.

A senior commander at about noon on Sunday said grimly: “It’s continuing now and it is going to continue. We lost a man last night [referring to Colonel Saw Jay].”

Colonel Nerdah Mya on Sunday morning said while the KNLA held the camp, all around the base was booby-trapped and both sides were laying more mines and continue rigging tripwires.

“It’s really messy out here,” he said, referring to a landscape that has become extremely dangerous to navigate for combatants of either side. We will continue to fight, we still hold the camp,” he said.

The fight for Wah Lay Kee, home to the KNLA Sixth Brigade’s 201st battalion began in the evening on April 12.

No side has taken the upper hand and both have suffered significant losses, although the KNLA far fewer, as would be expected from a force defending a long-standing, well-equipped base camp.

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