Nearly 500 Clashes Between Myanmar Junta Troops and Karen Rebels Recorded in Two Months

By The Irrawaddy 9 December 2021

Almost 500 violent clashes were recorded between Myanmar’s junta and the Karen National Union (KNU) during the last two months, killing 461 regime soldiers, according to the KNU.

In October and November, 481 clashes were reported in areas controlled by the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), in Karen and Mon states and Bago Region, leaving 461 junta soldiers dead and injuring another 425, according to the KNU.

The KNU said its forces only lost nine troops and suffered 30 injuries.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify any of the reports.

Brigadier General Shar Htu Waw of the KNLA said the armed group was defending its land after regime troops advanced into its territory without warning.

Fighting was inevitable when regime troops encroached on KNU territory, the brigadier said.

The KNU has been fighting for autonomy for more than 70 years.

It signed the National Ceasefire Agreement in October 2015 and remains a signatory.

Despite that pact, the KNLA clashed with the military in Papun District since 2018 in response to troop deployments and road construction in KNU-controlled territory.

Papun District in Karen State has seen most of the fighting since the coup.

On Monday in Papun, KNLA’s Brigade 5 and a people defense force (PDF) resistance group ambushed junta forces in a village, killing four soldiers and injuring six, according to the KNU.
The attack suggested the KNLA is increasingly working with civilian resistance groups to fight the regime.

Brig-Gen Shar Htu Waw denied the KNLA’s command has a policy to fight with the PDFs.

“If there is a policy, we will formally announce it,” he said.

The KNU denounced the February coup and since March the KNLA has attacked military outposts in Papun District. Thousands of Papun civilians fled their homes after the regime retaliated with airstrikes in March and April.

Some KNLA brigades have sheltered the PDFs and trained civilian volunteers in their territory, attracting condemnation from the regime.

Engagements have also been reported in at least five out of seven KNLA brigades in eastern Myanmar.

More than 82,000 residents – almost the entire rural population of Papun – have abandoned their homes since June, according to a report by the Karen Peace Support Network last week.

It recorded 770 reports of regime shelling, causing civilian injuries and damage to property in Papun between June 6 and Nov. 22, with the heaviest shelling in September.

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