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A Vehicle convey carrying the Karen State Minister, Major General Zaw Min and Director of the People’s Militias and Border Forces Directorate Major General Maung Maung Ohn were ambushed on their way back from a Border Guard Force (BGF) one year anniversary celebration in Myawaddy township on 20 August.
The attack by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) left 3 dead, but both senior government officials were able to escape with their lives.
Captain Saw Two Three of the DKBA Brigade-5 intelligence unit told DVB that one of the trucks in the convey was hit by a mine in the attack that took place at Wesha Maepleh village in Myawaddy township;
“The Commander and the Karen State Minister were on their way back from the [BGF] ceremony and we ambushed their convey with some explosive mines and small-arms fire before withdrawing immediately,” said Captain Two Three.
Adding that; “three government soldiers including a major were killed while one was injured”.
He said the mine detonation missed the car carrying the minister and the army commander and instead hit another vehicle in the convey.
“This happened because there is no tranquillity and unity with ethnic forces under the military government’s rule,” he said.
The DKBA Fifth brigade turned their weapons on the Naypyidaw government after refusing to sign up to the BGF agreement which would have seen them assimilated into the Burmese army. Since the expiration of the deal several ethnic armed groups have come under sustained attack from the Burmese.
DKBA brigade-5 is lead by Saw La Bwe who rose to fame after he sensationally attacked the major border town of Myawaddy the day after last November’s election. His troops briefly held positions in the town, which is a mjor trading hub with neighbouring Thailand.
He has subsequently become a wanted man and one of the major forces fighting Burmese domination in eastern Burma’s Karen state.
It is not the first time that senior representatives of the Burmese government have been ambushed whilst travelling in Karen State. Then Chief of Military Affairs Security, Ye Myint was ambushed in an assassination attempt last August by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) near Kawkareik. Again on that occasion a number of tropps were reportedly killed but the most senior target escaped.
The Karen lost much of their territory when their forces split in the mid 1990’s and the DKBA sided with the Burmese. Some DKBA units such as brigade 5 went back to opposing the Burmese last year but all the Karen forces now rely on guerilla warfare tactics in combatting the superior numbers and man power of the Burmese army, which is said to number close to half a million men and consume 26% of the country’s GDP.