da The Irrawaddy
At least a dozen Burmese government soldiers were killed and another 22 wounded in a series of attacks by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) on Thursday, according to a spokesperson for the ethnic armed group.
“The first attack took place at 12:30 pm near a spot known as ‘Japanese Hill’ in Thanbyuzayat,” said Hten Nay of KNLA Brigade 6. “Two grenades were thrown into a truck carrying troops from Light Infantry Battalions (LIB) 401 and 409 as they returned to their units after duty.”
He said the grenades set off a series of explosions in the back of the truck, which was also being used to transport weapons and ammunition. Eleven of the soldiers, who were stationed in Thanbyuzayat, Mon State, died in the attack, while another 20 were injured, he said.
Less than an hour later, at 1:15 pm, KNLA Brigade 6 launched a second attack, killing one soldier and wounding two from the Burmese army’s LIB 284 near the village of Myaingtharywa in Three Pagodas Pass.
“The troops from LIB 284 were returning from security duty in Three Pagodas Pass when Platoon 2 under KNLA Brigade 6 attacked them. They shot back at us, and we returned fire,” said Hten Nay, adding that no KNLA troops were killed or injured in either incident.
Fighting between the KNLA and Burmese junta troops is a regular occurrence in this area of southern Burma.
“Clashes happen at least once or twice a month in Karen and Mon states,” said Hten Nay, estimating that the two sides have engaged each other at least 20 times since the beginning of this year.
The Burmese junta has been stepping up its efforts against ethnic armed groups in recent months, as it prepares to hold the country’s first election in two decades. It has attempted unsuccessfully to persuade ceasefire groups to transform themselves into border guard forces, while applying greater military force on other groups that remain actively opposed to the regime.