Around 300 Karen Troops Defect From Splinter Group to Fight Myanmar Regime

By The Irrawaddy 27 April 2022

Some 300 troops have left the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) to join the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO) to fight Myanmar’s military regime, according to KNDO chief Major General Saw Nerdah Mya.

“It is time all the Karen organizations fought the enemy together. Our goal is to crush the military regime,” said Maj Gen Saw Nerdah Mya.

The DKBA troops will operate as the Commando Battalion 1 of the KNDO, he said. The KNDO is an armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), along with the Karen National Liberation Army.

A KNDO video on YouTube shows Maj Gen Saw Nerdah Mya welcoming hundreds of DKBA troops led by Major Bo Salone. The fighters left the DKBA with their weapons and ammunition.

In the video, Maj Bo Salone said they want to protect the people but the DKBA is not fighting the regime.

“We have handed away our DKBA ranks. We no longer belong to the DKBA and are KNDO now,” said Maj Bo Salone.

On Jan. 14, junta troops and the Karen State Border Guard Force attacked and occupied Bo Salone’s outpost in Palu Lay village in the south of Myawaddy in Karen State, after launching artillery and airstrikes.

Junta troops killed four people’s defense force (PDF) fighters captured in the clash and dumped their bodies into the Moei River and detained eight others, according to PDF sources.

Following the junta attacks, some 300 DKBA troops led by Bo Salone defected to the KNDO.

The DKBA headquarters in March sacked three commanders – a lieutenant colonel from Battalion 908 and a lieutenant colonel and a major from the Klo Htoo Baw headquarters –who fought alongside the KNU to attack a junta outpost in Myawaddy Township.

Military tensions are high between the KNDO and junta troops in Karen State and clashes can erupt at any time, said the KNDO.

Maj Gen Saw Nerdah Mya said: “The crisis will end when junta troops withdraw. The enemy outposts in our territory must be abandoned. Clashes are inevitable if they don’t withdraw.”

On Monday, KNDO Battalion 4 gave the regime two weeks to leave its two outposts in KNU territory in Taungoo District before they would be attacked.

KNDO Battalion 2 attacked a junta outpost in Bilin Township, Mon State, on April 22 after junta troops ignored a demand to withdraw.