Clashes Continue at DKBA Asia Highway Toll Booth

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 6 July 2015

RANGOON — Clashes continued in southeastern Burma on Monday between government troops and ethnic Karen rebels in the lead-up to a major conference between the area’s non-state actors and government representatives.

Fighting broke out in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township, near the border with Thailand, late last week as government troops entered the territory administered by the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), a splinter group of the state’s dominant Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).

DKBA Captain Saw Three Htoo told The Irrawaddy on Monday that clashes have occurred in four locations near the Asia Highway, linking Burma with northern Thailand at Myawaddy.

Representatives of both sides of the conflict were set to meet on Tuesday in the state capital, Hpa-an, to bring about a swift resolution to intermittent clashes that have caused panic among locals and stagnation of trade in the remote area.

Karen State Chief Minister Zaw Min had originally scheduled the conference between the government, the Karen National Union (KNU) and two other rebel armies, including the DKBA. The summit is intended to address the imposition of tolls along the highway, a major trade and commuter corridor.

Rebel soldiers said on Monday that despite the agreement to meet, DKBA troops came under fire by the Burma Army at around 11 am near Klo Htoo Wah gate, claiming government forces used 105 and 120 mm artillery shells to attack their positions.

Similar clashes broke out on Saturday, injuring two civilians, according to DKBA Deputy Chief of Staff Saw Moe Shaw, who said fire was exchanged after government troops entered Kawkareik without prior notice and demanded that the DKBA remove a security and toll station.