First Months of 2020 See Dozens of Clashes Between Burma Army, KNU

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

There have been at least 59 clashes between the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army—the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU)—in the KNU’s fifth brigade territory during the first three months of 2020, Karen sources reported.

According to a statement released by the KNU on March 31, the Burma Army and the KNU’s Brigade 5 clashed dozens of times in Mutraw District—referred to as Hpapun in Burmese—with both sides suffering casualties.

“The Burma Army violated its rules as well as trying to engage in military movement in the KNU-controlled area,” the KNU said in its statement, saying that this was the reason why the fighting occurred.

At least 27 Burmese soldiers were killed and 12 injured, the KNU reported. One of its own soldiers was killed and three were injured.

The Burma Army has been trying to expand a road through the area under the guise of it being a regional development project, the KNU has said, adding that the road is likely being built for military purposes. Clashes then ensued.

The fighting has taken a large civilian toll, with many people being internally displaced by the conflict.

“In Luthaw Township, at least 367 people from 51 families have fled the clashes because of the construction of the road. In Mutraw district, at least 2,799 people from 30 villages are living in fear in the area under the control of Brigade 5. These local people are facing many difficulties,” the KNU’s statement said.

The KNU was one of eight ethnic armed organizations to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government and military in 2015. Two more signed later. Despite the KNU’s status as an original signatory to the NCA, clashes with the Burma Army have continued, along with allegations that government forces have violated this ceasefire.