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Military assault on Karen villages spreads to Mon State, KNU says

An attack by the Myanmar military forced the Karen National Union (KNU) to abandon a local base in Mon State on April 6, after which villagers in the area also fled, according to local sources and a KNU announcement. 

The base was in Marnaung village, Dooplaya District, in territory controlled by the KNU’s Brigade 6. It was located at the foot of the Ma Hlwe mountain, just nine miles outside the town of Ye.

On April 7, the KNU announced that one civilian had been killed and another injured in the clash. The announcement also said that the KNU had to flee the area, as the military was alternately shooting at villagers and using them as human shields in their offensive against the Karen forces. 

The civilian who was killed was a domestic migrant worker, and the injured individual is being treated in a hospital, the announcement said.  

That same day, the junta’s Infantry Battalion (IB) 299 reportedly fired artillery shells near Marnaung village at around 9:30am. 

On April 5, one day before the initial fighting occurred near Marnaung, the village’s military council-appointed administrator was killed by unknown perpetrators. 

The next day, the military attacked a base near the village belonging to the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the KNU, a Ye local said.

“The KNLA watches over the village. The other day, a [military council] village administrator was killed. We don’t know who did it. But they probably assumed it was the KNLA and attacked their base the next day,” the local man said.

There have been a series of clashes between the military and the KNU/KNLA throughout KNU territory since the military’s February 1 coup.

The Myanmar military offensives against the KNU’s Brigade 5 in Karen State and Brigade 3 in Kyaukkyi Township in Bago Region have been particularly aggressive. The junta’s armed forces have launched multiple airstrikes in the areas that have killed at least 10 villagers and displaced around 20,000 civilians throughout KNU territory, according to an estimate by the Karen Peace Support Network. 

The KNU has publicly opposed the coup and declared it would protect the people in its territories against the military dictatorship. 

In March, the KNU’s Brigade 6 accompanied Karen protesters from Dooplaya District on their anti-coup demonstrations to offer protection against military crackdowns. 

Other clashes have broken out between the military and KNU in recent days. A direct confrontation occurred between the military’s IB 103 and the KNU’s Brigade 4 near Dawei in Tanintharyi Region on the afternoon of April 6. 

The fighting started after the military invaded the Karen armed group’s territory, the KNU said in an official announcement.

Thirty-seven soldiers, including IB commander Thein Bo Bo and deputy commander Kyaw Tun Thu, entered the territory saying that they were going to provide rations and funds to their Mae Daing military outpost, the KNU’s announcement said. 

A captain and two soldiers were killed in the subsequent clash, as well as three injured, all on the military’s side, according to the KNU. 


 

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