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Nearly 200 Myanmar Troops Killed in Clashes With Karen Forces

By The Irrawaddy 6 May 2021

Nearly 200 Myanmar military troops, including a colonel and a lieutenant colonel, were killed in clashes between the regime’s troops and the military wing of the Karen National Union (KNU) in Karen State.

Military tension has risen in Hpapun area, Shwe Kyin and Thaton Districts, in Karen and Bago regions after the military wing of the KNU, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 5 seized an outpost near the Salween River in Thi Mu Hta held by the military’s Light Infantry Division 349 on March 27.

KNU Brigade 5 also overran a military border post on the banks of the Salween River in Thaw Le Hta, near the border with Thailand’s Mae Hong Song Province on April 27.

From March 27 to early May, 194 soldiers were killed and another 220 soldiers from Myanmar military were wounded in clashes. Nine soldiers from the KNLA were killed and 10 were injured, a spokesperson for the KNU’s 5th Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Saw Kler Doh, told local news outlet Karen Information Center.

During one month, the military launched 27 airstrikes into the KNU Brigade 5 area, fired 47 artillery shells, and there were 407 clashes between the two sides, said Lt. Col. Saw Kler Doh.

Moreover, Brigade 5 recorded that the military fired 575 artillery shells into local villages and farmland. The air raid killed 14 civilians, wounded 28 people and destroyed 20 houses and two schools.

Currently, the military has been reinforcing its troops in these areas, according to KNU.

Last month, Lt. Col, Saw Kler Doh told The Irrawaddy that the KNLA’s attacks are to show support for civilians and the newly-formed National Unity Government set up by elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government.

Recently, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that about 40,000 people have fled their homes in Papun District in Karen State and Shwe Kyin, Kyaukkyi and Nyaunglebin Townships in Bago Region, following the coup and military airstrikes in the areas. An estimated 1,000 refugees – mostly the elderly, the sick, women and children – have taken refuge in Thailand.

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