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KNLA fighters clashed with junta forces 259 times last month, KNU says

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) clashed with junta forces 259 times last month in Myanmar’s Kayin and Mon states, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Karen National Union (KNU). The fighting led to the deaths of 12 KNLA troops and 19 civilians. The KNU said 386 junta troops and Border Guard Force (BGF) members were killed and 280 injured.

RFA could not independently confirm the number of battles or casualties and calls to the Military Council’s Spokesman by RFA went unanswered. 

Fighting intensified last month as KNLA troops joined forces with the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO) to attack junta troops and BGF members in KNU-controlled areas in Kayin and Mon states.

KNDO Special Commando Officer, Capt. Sa Lone told RFA the Military Council is still carrying out ground operations and air raids.

“Now the fighting will intensify,” he said. “The Military Council does not dare to move forward. They will face casualties if they move forward. The junta offensive is still there. The Military Council uses not only manpower, but also heavy artillery and aircraft. They do not give up and we have to stand on the side of the people and continue.”

The KNU said along with the 19 dead locals, 26 people were injured and 44 homes and religious buildings were damaged due to heavy artillery shelling and landmines. Some 49 people from Thaton district in Mon state, controlled by KNU Brigade 1, were arrested for providing information and support to the KNU.

The statement also claimed more than 150,000 locals fled in search of safety due to junta attacks in the 18 months since the Feb. 2021 coup.

Military Council Spokesman Gen. Saw Min Ton has denied KNU statements in the past, saying the military does not target civilians.

An Aug. 3 statement by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 346,000 people fled their homes due to internal conflicts in Myanmar before Feb. 1 last year. It said 866,000 became internally displaced persons since the coup as of July 25 this year.