While operating security checkpoints on Route 8 in Mon State, the Karen National Liberation Army claims to have arrested four people with suspected connections to the junta on Sunday, releasing them shortly afterwards.
The KNLA, which acts as the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), an ethnic political organisation, began conducting security checks at 7am Sunday morning at three points along Route 8, according to Padoh Saw Liston, the district secretary for the KNLA’s Brigade 6.
Route 8 is a highway connecting Mon State with Tanintharyi Region, which runs through the KNU’s claimed territory.
According to the information available at the time of reporting, two of those arrested were former soldiers and two were civilians. They were released on Monday.
The KNLA’s Battalion 27 and the People’s Defence Forces—the armed wing of the publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG)—began conducting security checks along Route 8 between Thanbyuzayat, Mon State, and Dawei, the capital of Tanintharyi Region, starting on June 15.
The NUG’s Southern Military Regional Command 3 issued a statement with accompanying photos showing the KNLA and PDF operating the checkpoints between Mon State’s Thanbyuzayat and Ye townships on Sunday.
KNLA Battalion 27 issued an earlier announcement on June 10 warning against carrying military-connected items or riding in junta vehicles.
Although parts of the road where the KNLA and PDF have operated checkpoints are located near Mawt Ka Nin village, Ye Township, where the military maintains its base for Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 588, none of the battalion’s forces have engaged with the KNLA and PDF in the area since the arrests.
“There are two possible reasons why they are not attacking us yet. The first one is that they could still be sizing up our forces against theirs, and the other is that they may want to gather more information on this case before they act. They appear to be waiting for the right chance to strike, when all conditions are in their favour,” Padoh Saw Liston said.
Route 8 is a highway running more than 300 miles between Mawlamyine, the Mon State capital, and the town of Myeik, Tanintharyi Region, and is one of Myanmar’s crucial transportation arteries. The military depends on Route 8 to move reinforcements, supplies, weapons and ammunition to its southern bases.
Junta forces have recently clashed with local defence teams along Route 8 in Thayetchaung Township, Tanintharyi Region—located south of Dawei and north of Myeik—escalating violence to unprecedented levels in the area and displacing thousands of civilians.
The military council has yet to release a statement regarding the KNLA’s or PDF’s operation of security checkpoints on major roads.