Over 350 Junta Troops Killed in April in Southeast Myanmar 

By The Irrawaddy 10 May 2022

Some 356 junta troops and members of the pro-regime Border Guard Force (BGF) were killed in April in southeast Myanmar’s Karen State during 507 clashes with ethnic Karen fighters, a slight drop on the number of casualties the regime suffered in March.

In a statement issued Saturday, the Karen National Union (KNU) said that fighting broke out between its armed wings and the Myanmar military every day in April in KNU-controlled areas, adding that there were a total of 507 clashes resulting in the deaths of 356 regime troops. That means that about a dozen junta soldiers died each day in April and that there were at least 16 clashes daily.

The KNU is Myanmar’s oldest revolutionary group. Its armed wings are the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO). Both reject the military regime and last year’s February coup. Since then, they have been fighting in Karen State alongside civilian resistance groups who also oppose the junta. 

In Saturday’s statement, the KNU joined other ethnic armed organizations in rejecting the regime’s recent offer of peace talks, because the junta has excluded the parallel National Unity Government and its armed wing, the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), from the talks. 

Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the head of the KNU’s Foreign Affairs Department, said that there was intense fighting in mid-April during the Thingyan Water Festival [April 13-16] and many airstrikes all month.

“During Thingyan, a whole junta column was destroyed and the battalion commander was killed”, said Padoh Saw Taw Nee.

March was the deadliest and most miserable month so far this year for the regime in Karen State, with 429 junta soldiers and BGF members killed in 510 clashes.

There were 421 clashes in February with 311 regime deaths, and 435 clashes in January with 399 regime deaths, according to figures released by the KNU.

Given those numbers, the total death toll of junta forces in the first four months of the year now stands at 1,495. The Irrawaddy has not been able to verify the number independently.

Around 15 KNLA and KNDO fighters were killed and 35 injured in April, said the KNU. Ten civilians died in regime artillery strikes, and another 35 were wounded. 

The KNU has accused regime forces of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, using civilians as human shields and raiding and looting villages.

Fighting between junta troops and the KNLA and KNDO has intensified since the junta’s December 14 raid on Lay Kay Kaw Town in Karen’s Myawaddy Township, close to the border with Thailand. The regime claimed that democracy activists and PDF fighters were sheltering in the town.

Padoh Saw Taw Nee said that small clashes are ongoing in KNU-controlled areas of Karen State, although there was less fighting than in previous months.

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