Thursday, July 9, 2009

KNU capture KPF Lieutenant Colonel and base

A senior military leader of a Karen splinter group, was captured by forces from the largest Karen insurgent group that has continued fighting against the Burmese government.

On July 8, Karen Peace Force (KPF) battalion No. 3 commander, Lieutenant Colonel Saw Lay War, was capture, along with 3 KPF soldiers, by Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) forces yesterday at 2 pm near Zami river, Kyainnseikyi township, according to a source from the Karen National Union (KNU).

A source close to the KNU reported to IMNA that Lieutenant Colonel Saw Lay War and his soldiers were returning to Three Pagoda Pass via boat, after having met with SPDC officials in Nay Pyi Daw. He was captured while in a boat, with out any shots being fired.

He was captured by forces from the KNLA No. 2 company commanded by Saw Chat Dehtoo. The KNLA is the military wing of the KNU.

A source close to KNU officials said, “A KNLA company captured forces from the KPF yesterday, and have detained them at Regiment No.6 headquarters.” The KPF force had originally been requested by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Southeast Command to leave for Nay Pyi Daw before the 1st of July, 2009 for a discussion with SPDC officials. Lay War and his forces left on June 30th, at 11 am, beginning their trip by boat to the Burmese governments capital city. While the KNU were aware of his departure, it cannot be confirmed if his capture had been a previously planned ambush.

The KPF split from the KNU in 1997 and has since allied itself with the SPDC, agreeing to become a border guard force. The group is currently estimated to have a fighting force of close to 500.

After KNLA forces captured Lieutenant Colonel Saw Lay War, the KNLA company commander Saw Chat Dehtoo and its soldiers pushed on to seize the KPF military base at That Chal, yesterday. It is also unclear weather the KNLA forces had planned to take the base that day.

“Yesterday at 8:00 pm, a KPF military base was seized by the KNLA No. 2 company commanded by Saw Chat Dehtoo,” a source close to the KNU said. “5 KPF solders and a few arms were captured.” The 5 KPF soldiers captured are named, Man Shwe, Lin Aye Maung, Hein Toe, Nyar Pwo and Kyar Phie. According ot the source, the KNU captured 2 AK-47’s, an M-16, 2 pistols, and 1 RPG.

The KNU have recently been engaged in an extended defensive campaign against SPDC force. Fighting has continued since the first week of June, and as reported by the Irrawaddy news source, about 4,000 Karen refugees have fled to Thailand.

The KNU suffered a major defeat when a joint force of Burmese army troops and soldiers of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) seized the KNLA Brigade 7 headquarters on Sunday, June 21.

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