Fighting between Myanmar troops, rebels enters third day

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Mon Nov 6 07:54:36 MST 2000


Sunday
5 November 2000

Fighting between Myanmar troops, rebels enters third day
MAE SOT, Thailand: Fighting between Myanmar government forces and ethnic
Karen rebels entered a third day Saturday as the government troops kept up
attempts to seize a rebel base opposite the northern Thai province of Tak.
More than 400 soldiers belonging to the Myanmar army and their guerrilla
allies in the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army have been attacking a
stronghold of the Karen National Union since Thursday, but have failed to
dislodge the defenders, said KNU officers and Thai officials.
There have been no reports of fatalities on either side. A KNU guerrilla
injured by artillery shrapnel was evacuated for treatment to a Thai hospital
on Friday.
On Saturday the government forces brought in reinforcements in their attempt
to seize the KNU's Wei Na Na Tha camp, opposite the Thai district of
Phoppra, said a guerrilla spokesman on condition of anonymity.
Thai villagers getting ready to be evacuated from the area said the Myanmar
government forces, using artillery and small arms, pressed their attack all
night Friday until dawn, but without success.
The heavy fighting has led the Thai army to begin the evacuation of more
than 100 Thai villagers in the area. On Friday, two artillery shells landed
on Thai soil but caused no damage or injuries.
Thailand has sent army rangers and militia units to protect the border in
Phoppra, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of Bangkok.
The local Thai commander, Col. Phisanu Vacharophas, said his troops were
prepared to defend Thai sovereignty and push back any foreign troops
entering Thai territory.
The KNU has been fighting for regional autonomy since Myanmar's independence
in 1948. It once controlled a large part of the country's eastern border
region, but in recent years lost its last major enclaves along the border
with Thailand. Its forces, thought to number 2,000 to 3,000, now fight in
mobile guerrilla units.
It is the only major ethnic army that has refused to sign a cease-fire with
the military regime of Myanmar. The government has brokered deals with at
least 15 other armies.
The KNU has said it will give up its armed struggle if its political rights
are guaranteed. (AP)
For reprint rights:Times Syndication Service







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