Burma Army, KNU Clash Nearly 90 Times in Two Months
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Monday, June 15, 2020
The Burma Army and the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Brigade 5 have fought 88 times over the last two months, according to KNU sources.
On June 12, the KNU reported that the Tatmadaw’s activity in Mutraw District—Hpapun Township, according to government maps—has led to dozens of clashes between April 1 and June 3.
“The reason for the clashes is that the Burma Army has patrolled and come to build their military camps in our territory. Therefore, the Burma Army and troops from the KNU’s Brigade 5 had clashes in the area,” the KNU’s statement said.
The military columns that Karen forces clashed with were under the Tatmadaw’s southeastern command. The KNU alleged that at least 30 soldiers from the Burma Army had been killed and three injured since April.
Three local people were also injured in Burma Army artillery attacks, and 572 people from more than 100 families in four villages had been forced to flee the fighting.
The KNU accused the Burma Army of destroying people’s farmland and trees by setting fire to the land.
“At least 66 rotating farms, eight cardamom farms, and a djengkol bean farm were destroyed by Burma Army,” the KNU’s statement said. “Nearly 4,943.32 acres of Hpalakho and Letkhee conservation forests were destroyed by fire,” the KNU said in its statement.
The KNU has reported that the Burma Army has increased its militarization of Mutraw District by sending in more troops; there are now 20 Burma Army battalions 82 military camps, and three Border Guard Force battalions in the territory, which is controlled by the KNU.
The Burma Army has also carried out road construction through the KNU’s Brigade 5 territory for years, calling it a regional development initiative, despite widespread opposition from both the KNU and locals. Much of the ongoing fighting and tension has been attributed to the road construction.
At the time of reporting, the office of the Burma Army’s commander-in-chief hasn’t posted any comment online about the militarization, the fighting, or the recent KNU statement.
The KNU has been a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government and military for nearly five years, but this status has not prevented fighting from continuing.
The Burma Army has also had recent clashes with NCA signatory Restoration Council of Shan State in northern Shan State.