Thursday, June 18, 2009

KNU to Abandon Bases


The Karen National Union (KNU) will abandon its Brigade 7 military bases because they are unwilling to kill their fellow Karen and lose soldiers in the fighting, according to Karen sources.

The Karen sources said that the KNU will let the joint Burmese army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) force take over the military bases because it does not want Karen people to kill each other. The DKBA soldiers split from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the military wing of the KNU in early 1995.

During the recent fighting, the DKBA soldiers were ordered by the Burmese army to fight on the frontline as minesweepers, while Burmese soldiers fired mortars from the rear for support, said KNU sources.

Sources said the KNU prefer to use guerrilla tactics instead of confronting the combined troops as it will cost fewer lives.

The joint force has already seized three military bases belonging to KNLA Brigade 7, since the combined force started the offensive in early June. The seized bases belonged to KNLA Battalion 21, 22, and 101.

About 20 soldiers from the joint force, who were mostly from the DKBA, have been killed and 50 injured, according to KNU sources. Five KNLA soldiers have reportedly been injured.

The offensive launched by the joint force has forced at least 4,000 Karen villagers to flee their homes in Pa-an District in southern Karen State and escape to Thailand.

The DKBA is recruiting soldiers as the Burmese regime has ordered their troops to become border guard militias. They have also been asked to clean up KNLA military bases along the Thai-Burma border by 2010, when the regime plans to hold the general election, according to Karen sources.

The KNU has been fighting for autonomy for six decades but has never signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese regime.

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