New Year Has Brought More Than 20 Armed Engagements Between Tatmadaw And KNU

By Network Media Group
Monday, January 18, 2021

The Karen National Union’s Brigade-5 has more than 20 armed engagements with Tatmadaw troops in the first two weeks of this year, during a quarrel over a series of roads the Burma Army is building in Mutraw District, also called Hpapun. The Burma Army wants to construct the roads to connect several hilltop bases located between KNLA’s brigades 3 and 5.

Padoh Mahn Mahn, spokesperson for Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade-5, told NMG most of the clashes this year happened in its area of control in northern Karen State. But minor skirmishes also broke out in territories controlled by KNLA Brigade 1 in Mon State and Brigade 3 in Bago Region. Both brigades are standing off with Tatmadaw troops following hostilities that started in late 2020.

In Mutraw, fighting was steady this year until January 15, Padoh Mahn Mahn said, with Tatmadaw soldiers “indiscriminately” shelling villages in the district. During one of these attacks, a child on a rotational farm suffered a head injury from shrapnel.

In Bago Division, the fighting between Brigade 3 and the Burma Army has stopped, for the time being, but sides are sending reinforcements.

Almost 600 civilians, who were caught in the middle of the conflict in Nyaung Laypin District, which started mid-December, are still hiding in the jungle, according to Saw Sipatraw, from Karen Social Affairs. He told NMG that clashes broke out near Moo Thae, Thae Daw, Takaw Del, Pakaw Htee and Pakaw Htar.

To end the violence, the Karen Social Affairs called for negotiations under the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), which both armed groups signed in 2015.

The other NCA signatories include Chin National Front, All Burma Students Democratic Front, Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council, Pa-O National Liberation Organization, Arakan Liberation Party, Restoration Council of Shan State, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, New Mon State Party and Lahu Democratic Union.