NMSP, KNU Clash After Reaching Agreement to Halt Fighting

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Recent clashes between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karen National Union (KNU) have continued despite agreements between leaders to halt fighting.

A battle broke out near Ngar Kalay Chaung village in Kyaung Ywar village tract in Mon State’s Ye Township on October 23, after leaders of the two armed groups met earlier that day and declared an end to further armed conflict.

“To avoid further clashes, we need to explain our agreement to our ground level forces,” Lt-Col Saw Shwe Win, the commander of Battalion 16 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)—the armed wing of the KNU—told NMG.

The agreement between the NMSP and KNU was to solve disputes through dialogue rather than military means, NMSP Battalion 5 commander Lt-Col M. Seik Chan told NMG. It came after clashes in Balae Donfive village in Phayathonsu sub-township in Karen State on October 17 and 21. Representatives of the KNU’s Brigade 6 and the NMSP then held three meetings and observed the location of the fighting.

Two soldiers from both the NMSP and KNU were killed in the fighting, as well as one civilian.

The NMSP and KNU initially engaged in intense clashes over territory in 1988. Fighting did not reignite until 2016, again over territory, as well as issues concerning timber smuggling. The groups have had at least six clashes in Tanintharyi Region’s Yephyu Township in recent years and in Ye Township in Mon State

Both organizations are signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the Burmese government and military. The NMSP signed it in February 2018, and the KNU signed it in October 2015.