By Kantarawaddy Times
The Karenni Army (KA), the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), came under fire this Monday during its third clash with the Burma Army this month.
According to a Karenni soldier, KA Battalion 3, under Tactical Command 1, fought with Burma Army LIB-530, LID-66 and People’s Militia Force (PMF) all day in Loilen Lay, a sub-township of Loikaw Township.
The soldier said the conflict started at 8am with LIB-530 and PMF between Ner Kwe and Teelon villages. KA exchanged gunfire with LID-66 near Kon Ner and Wam Khine villages at 1:40pm. By the late afternoon until about 6pm, Karenni soldiers were battling Burma Army near Dawta Hey village.
The military continued to fire artillery shells at KA into the evening, the soldier said, but the ethnic armed organisation stopped returning fire. “We are living in our territory and they trespassed into our area. If they continue pressing forward, I am sure there will be more fighting,” he explained.
No Karenni soldiers or civilians died, but he wasn’t sure if the Burma Army suffered fatalities. The military stole some of the villagers’ livestock, the soldier said. “We are praying for our people.”
All of the residents from eastern Loilen Lay sub-township went into hiding after 10 shells struck villages, a local said, explaining that both sides fired heavy weapons.
They had just returned to their homes last week after a temporary ceasefire was brokered last month between Karenni People’s Defence Force (KPDF) and Burma Army.
A village expressed their frustration repeatedly having to run from fighting. “We returned to our homes because the situation was stable last week. Now after hearing the sounds of gunfire this morning we have to flee yet again. Some who were working in their paddy fields ran straight to the jungle.”
By the first week of June, the conflict between the military and KPDF that started in late May displaced about 100,000 or one-fourth of Karenni State.
Villagers who are affected by Monday’s conflict need food, medicine and materials to make shelters.