Regime Reinforcements in Southeastern Myanmar Prompt Clashes With Karen Fighters

By The Irrawaddy 14 March 2022

Myanmar junta troops and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) clashed last week in Karen State’s Dupalaya District, according to the Karen National Union (KNU), the political wing of the KNLA.

“Fresh clashes erupted on Tuesday and Wednesday in the surrounding area of Lay Kay Kaw. The regime sent large numbers of reinforcements to the area on Friday,” Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the KNU’s head of foreign affairs, told The Irrawaddy.

The arrival of military regime reinforcements followed the Dupalaya District KNU asking the junta to withdraw its troops from the area, where the KNLA’s Brigade 6 is active, he added.

“Far from withdrawing their troops, they have even brought in reinforcements. So fighting is inevitable. It is their routine to fire artillery when fighting. They fire [artillery] at random once clashes break out. They don’t even spare monasteries,” said Padoh Saw Taw Nee.

KNU’s letter to South Eastern Command.

On March 7, the Dupalaya District KNU sent a letter to the commander of the Myanmar military’s South Eastern Command, demanding that junta troops withdraw from Lay Kay Kaw and southern Kawkareik by March 9.

Residents of Lay Kay Kaw, the surrounding area and southern Kawkareik in Dupalaya District have been unable to return to their homes since being displaced by junta attacks last December, because regime soldiers are deployed in their villages looting and vandalizing their properties, said the KNU.

But on March 9, regime forces attacked Lay Kay Kaw and other areas of the KNLA Brigade 6’s territory with two planes and also fired artillery, resulting in further clashes between the two sides.

Last Saturday, two cargo trucks were shot at and set on fire on the Myawaddy-Kawkareik Road killing the drivers. Travelers alleged on social media that junta troops were responsible for the attacks. Some 100 junta soldiers were seen marching along the Myawaddy-Kawkareik Road on Saturday morning, according to social media reports.

A 12-wheeled truck on fire on the Myawaddy-Kawkareik Road.

“Four vehicles, two cargo trucks, a passenger bus and a pick-up truck, were set on fire. My cargo went up in flames. In this chaotic age, taking risks is inevitable. There are many people who face a worse fate than me,” said a trader who lost his goods in the fighting.

The Myawaddy-Kawkareik Road was briefly closed following the attacks. Travelers have been urged to be cautious while using the road.

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