Deputy commander among those killed in attack on junta base near Thai border

Anti-regime forces who overran a junta base in Karen (Kayin) State’s Myawaddy Township on Wednesday killed five soldiers, including the base’s deputy commander, according to an armed group that took part in the attack.

Maj Aung Nyein Chan, the deputy commander of the Thay Baw Boe base, was one of the casualties of the assault along with Lt Han Lin Tun and three other junta soldiers, a spokesperson for the Cobra Column told Myanmar Now.

“We found the body of the deputy commander while clearing the area around the base,” he said, adding that he believed that he had been killed by a sniper.

“The bullet found on the body looked like the kind our snipers use,” he said.

A joint force of troops from the Cobra Column and Brigade 6 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) seized control of the base late Wednesday after a full day of fierce fighting.

The Thay Baw Boe on May 19, a day after it was overrun by anti-regime forces (Cobra Column)

According to the Cobra Column spokesperson, two sergeants, a corporal, a lance corporal, and three privates were captured alive at the base, while others fled. 

He said that at least some of those who escaped crossed the Moei River into neighbouring Thailand. Around 50 troops were believed to have been stationed at the base.

“Some of them fled to Thailand while we were clearing the area. We found a gun in the river and we also have proof that Thai soldiers helped them,” said the information officer.

The Thai military has not made any public statement regarding these claims.

The Voice of Spring, an organisation that tracks clashes around the country, reported that at least 10 Myanmar soldiers were being held by the Thai military in Mae Sot, a border town in Thailand’s Tak Province.

The raid on the base was led by Cobra Column commander Dar Baw, who is also the deputy commander of Squadron 2 of KNLA Brigade 6’s Battalion 27, and L Say Wah of the Karen National Defence Organization, according to a statement released by the Karen National Union (KNU) on May 20.

The KNU said that its armed wings and allies decided to seize control of the base because it was frequently used to fire heavy artillery at surrounding villages.

The military used airstrikes to defend the base. Three members of the anti-regime forces were killed and four, including Dar Baw, were injured.

The Thay Baw Boe base was under the control of the KNU until it was seized by Myanmar’s military in the 1990s.

Tensions have been high in eastern Karen State since March 7, when Brigade 6 ordered regime forces to leave Lay Kay Kaw, a town in Myawaddy Township, within three days so that civilians displaced by an earlier offensive could return to the area.  

Since then, fighting has broken out on an almost daily basis throughout Brigade 6 territory, including in Myawaddy, Lay Kay Kaw, Waw Lay, Eu Kali Hta, Thay Baw Boe, and Balar Doh.  

On March 21, KNLA troops overran a junta base in the village of Maw Khee, also located in Myawaddy Township, seizing a large cache of weapons and ammunition. 

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