Mon And Karen Forces Withdraw Forces From Contested Area

By Network Media Group
Wednesday, October 31, 2019

Mon and Karen armed groups have agreed to pull back their troops from a disputed area of Phayarthonsu (Three Pagodas) township.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Karen National Union (KNU) forces clashed in the villages of Balae Donfive and Htee Wahdoh as recently as October 20. After successful negotiations, fighting has stopped after one more clash between troops.

“We won’t deploy our forces in the conflict area and we will only allow villagers to live there. If our soldiers want to go there, they must wear civilian clothing and not with military equipment,” Lt Col Saw Shwe Win, commander of KNU’s battalion-16, told NMG.

Soldiers must have a special reason to enter the area and both sides will be informed by reporting to a liaison office, he said.

Military leaders will hold joint public meetings soon to explain the new agreement to villagers, said Lt Col M. Seik Chan, commander of NMSP’s battalion-5.

Over 100 Mon and Karen were displaced by the fighting that saw casualties from both the NMSP and KNU. Most civilians sought refuge in the town of Phayarthonsu.

In the past, the NMSP and KNU have clashed over territory. In 1988, there was heavy fighting between the two ethnic armed groups but the fighting stopped until 2016.

Like before, the post-reform period clashes are also been about territory, as well as issues concerning timber smuggling. Fighting has broken out at least six times since 2016, with some happening in Yephyu Township in Tanintharyi Region and other instances occurring in Ye township in Mon State.

Both armed groups are signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.