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Fighting claims four dead during Karen peace talks

Four government soldiers reportedly died as the Karen National Union (KNU) and a Burmese government peace team were meeting on Sunday to talk about a cease-fire code of conduct.

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Four members of the government's Border Guard Force (BGF) were killed in a clash with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in a firefight in Mae Seik village, Papun Township, in northern Karen State, according to KNLA sources.

The clash occurred at the same time as peace talks were underway in the border town of Myawaddy to work out details in relation to negotiations about a cease-fire code of conduct and location of government troops, said an article on the Karen News website on Wednesday.

Naw Zipporah Sein, the KNU secretary, told Karen News that the clash might have been caused by a “weakness of command.”

“This fighting occurred during the ‘peace-talk’ period and it could possibly be that orders haven’t reached to every command area. We are in the period of making sure all the details are in place and both sides need to continue to discuss these issues,” she said.

Major Kler Doh of the KNLA 5th Brigade office confirmed that soldiers under its command and BGF militia from Battalion 1014 had exchanged fire.

“It happened at 5 a.m. when a platoon from our 5th brigade headquarters clashed with soldiers from BGF battalion 1014. According to our reports, four BGF soldiers were killed, and we suffered two wounded. We also captured weapons of the BGF,” he said. The casualty figures could not be confirmed through other sources.

Major Kler Doh said that the fighting lasted about 30 minutes.

He said, “The BGF are trying to increase their area. We warned them not to do it during the peace talks between the Karen National Union and the government, but they ignored the warning.”

The KNU and government reached a cease-fire agreement at the state level on January 12, and at the Union level on April 6.