Military shells kill one civilian, injure two near Thai-Myanmar border

Regime forces have intensified artillery strikes and brought fresh troops to Karen State in an effort to regain control of a base they lost to Karen and allied resistance fighters in July

As the regime sent reinforcements to help retake Lat Khet Taung base in Myawaddy Township, Karen State from anti-junta forces last week, junta artillery killed one resident of the neighbouring Kawkareik Township and injured two others. 

According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the ethnic political organisation Karen National Union (KNU), the deceased victim was Myint Kyaw, 52, a resident of Taung Kyar Inn village near the town of Kyondo in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township. He was hit in the head by shrapnel when the army’s Infantry Battalion (IB) 208 shelled his village on August 19. 

Three days afterwards, shells fired indiscriminately by the junta’s IB 559 injured two women from Wawle village, Kawkareik Township, according to another KNU statement released the same day. 

The two women, who work as farmers, were on their way to their fields when they were stopped and asked to accompany a group of soldiers. The women were frightened and tried to run away, and the soldiers reacted by shooting at them, the KNU said.

Members of the People’s Defence Forces and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)—the armed wings of the National Unity Government and KNU, respectively—seized the military’s Lat Khet Taung base last month. The base is located four miles south of Myawaddy, Karen State, a town on the Thailand-Myanmar border. 

The military started firing heavy artillery in areas of Kawkareik Township en route to the base in mid-August, displacing thousands of locals from at least 10 villages.

Fighting has broken out nearly every day along the Myawaddy-Kawkareik road since the allied anti-junta forces overran the base on July 21, according to a spokesperson for the White Tiger Column, a KNLA-allied resistance force active in the area. 

“They seem to want to conduct area clearing operations in our territory so they can send supplies and reinforcements,” the White Tiger spokesperson told Myanmar Now.

The junta forces have reportedly suffered significant casualties in the recent fighting. 

According to the KNU’s August 22 statement, a captain of the junta’s Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 546 died in combat and four other soldiers in the unit sustained injuries on August 18. An officer and corporal of IB 208 were killed and six other members of the unit were injured on August 19. 

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the number of casualties on the military’s side.

KNLA and allied forces including KNLA Battalion 27, the White Tiger Column, the White Naga Column, the White Garuda Column, and the Swallow Column exercise control over most of the Kawkareik-Myawaddy road.

“These areas are dominated by KNLA forces,” the White Tiger spokesperson said.

An alliance of KNLA and PDF forces also assaulted a junta-controlled township administration office and district police station in Kawkareik in October of last year.

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