Fierce fighting broke out between junta troops and combined forces of Karen revolutionary troops in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township on Friday.
Locals have reported aerial bombing by the regime. One civilian was killed and two others injured as mortar shells fired by the Myanmar military’s Infantry Battalion 97 (LB 97) struck residential areas, according to local sources.
“The fighting broke out around 7 a.m. [Resistance forces] launched the attack, and people were hit when LB 97 responded. One was killed and two others injured. Buddhist monasteries and houses were also hit. A junta aircraft started bombing and firing at around 10 a.m. in some five locations. People in the town are trapped,” said a Kawkareik resident.
One source close to the Karen National Union (KNU) said: “We just saw a junta aircraft flying over us. I heard that it dropped bombs on the Asian Highway [a trade route linking Kawkareik and Myawaddy on the Thai border], as well as on Kawkareik town. It is Bo L Say Warr’s group that launched the offensive. There were junta casualties. And I heard [Bo L Say Warr’s group] also torched junta checkpoints.”
Bo L Say Warr previously served in the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO), one of the armed wings of the KNU. He currently serves in the Kaw Thoo Lei Army (KTLA) led by Brigadier General Saw Nedah Mya, who split from the KNU. The KTLA was established in July.
On Friday morning troops led by Bo L Say Warr carried out a series of surprise attacks on junta targets including Ka Nein Mu Ward, the district police office near the town’s toll gate, and an interdepartmental administrative office.
A senior officer from the KNU told The Irrawaddy: “Three people including a policeman have died. KNU and People’s Defense Force fighters as well as L Say Warr’s troops from the KTLA are involved. The clash happened near the civil servants’ staff quarters on the outskirts of the town.”
The Irrawaddy is still confirming details of the fighting and civilian casualties caused by the junta’s air strikes.
In August, Karen National Liberation Army-led resistance forces attacked the district police office and the General Administration Department office in Kawkareik. Twelve junta personnel including a police major were killed and weapons were seized in the fighting, according to the KNU. Several civilians were injured as the regime fired around 50 rounds of artillery in the fighting.