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Myanmar junta soldiers surrender in ethnic army’s first Tanintharyi win

Nearly 50 junta soldiers surrendered to an ethnic armed group in southern Myanmar, its political wing announced on Tuesday

The Karen National Union’s armed branch, the Karen National Liberation Army, intercepted junta troops in Tanintharyi region’s Myeik township. 

Commander Lieutenant Colonel Aung Hein, leading the junta’s Myeik-based Infantry Battalion 103, surrendered to the Karen army’s Brigade 4, according to a statement from the Karen National Union. The Karen National Liberation Army intercepted 48 troops on their way back to regroup in Htee Hta Byu Har junta camp on Monday, while six junta soldiers were killed in the attack.

The group began fighting for territory in Tanintharyi in November 2022. This victory marks a first for the Karen National Liberation Army’s successes in the region, a spokesman for KNLA allies the Myeik District Revolutionary Force told RFA.

“We can say that this surrender was the very first of its kind in Tanintharyi region,” he told RFA, declining to be named for security reasons. “I heard that they surrendered yesterday.”

The troops that surrendered used to conduct military operations in Tanintharyi and Palaw townships, he said, adding that joint Karen National Union and People’s Defense Forces are conducting operations against the army in Dawei and Palaw township.

RFA contacted Tanintharyi region’s junta spokesperson Thet Naing for a comment on the incident, but he did not respond by the time of publication. 

Nearly 70 light and heavy weapons were seized and the 48 junta soldiers who surrendered are being held in accordance with international law, the Karen National Union’s statement said.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn.