Karen, Mon Leaders Visit Disputed Area on Thai-Myanmar Border
By Lawi Weng 22 October 2019
Leaders from Mon and Karen ethnic armed groups visited the disputed border between their territories Tuesday morning with the aim of reducing armed conflict between the two groups.
Leaders from Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 6 and the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) joined the trip to Thee Ba Dot Village in Three Pagodas Pass Township, led by MNLA deputy chief General Nai Bayar Ma San.
“They went to check on the disputed territory today with the intention of halting the fighting,” KNLA spokesperson Saw Edwerd told The Irrawaddy.
He added that the two armed groups would negotiate the exact border between their territories.
The KNLA and MNLA leaders reportedly agreed to travel together to check on tensions along the border during a meeting at Three Pagodas Pass.
Both armed groups retreated from the disputed border during the leaders’ visit to the area.
Fighting between the two groups had broken out at 7 a.m. Monday at Thee Ba Dot despite agreements between the leaders to stop further fighting.
Both sides reportedly suffered casualties but the two armed groups did not issue any statements. One member of the MNLA was killed in the fighting, according to a source with the armed group.
Saw Edwerd said that he hadn’t received details from contacts on the ground regarding casualties.
Both Kawthoolei Armed Forces (KAF) News and Karen Breaking News reported that some members of the KNLA were wounded in the fighting. KAF News said that one member of the KNLA and one civilian were killed.
Karen Breaking News reported that the fighting broke out after the Mon group destroyed a Karen flag, referring to an incident in which the MNLA allegedly destroyed a flag that the KNLA had put in front of an MNLA base on the dividing line between Karen and Mon territory at Thee Ba Dot.
Fighting has broken out at least three times in October along the disputed dividing line between the territories.
About 300 ethnic Mon people have been displaced by the fighting, according to local sources. The internally displaced people (IDPs) took refuge at a Buddhist monastery in the town at Three Pagodas Pass.
Some schools in the Mon National School system in Kyainseikgyi Township, Karen State, were temporarily closed because tensions between the two ethnic armed groups have led to instability.
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