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Karen retreat Three Pagodas Pass border town after one night siege

A combined force composed of the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have retreated ...

Three Pagodas Pass – A combined force composed of the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have retreated from the border town on the Burma side near to Three Pagodas Pass after a one night siege against the Burmese Army stationed there.

The spokesperson of KNU’s 6th Brigade, Padoh Hte Nay, told a Kaowao reporter that the Karen took control of the border town on Monday and destroyed the Burmese government’s offices in the town.

The military and government offices including the Special Branch (SB), Agriculture, Forestry, and Post and Telegraph Departments were all burnt down by the rebel groups on Monday, November 8, the day after the first General Election in Burma in 20 years.

A Kaowao reporter from the Thai side of the border town reported that about 120 troops from the Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 283 and 60 troops from the LIB No. 405 failed to defend the town and government employees and officers were forced to retreat from the area.  The combined forces of the Karen rebels seized nine arms from the Burmese Army.

“The DKBA troops entered the border town from different directions surprised the Burmese government troops, who fled the town shortly after. The DKBA troops gained control of the area around noon,” said Nai Lun, a town resident.

Meanwhile, the DKBA troops attacked the Myawaddy border town in Burma opposite Maesot, Tak Province. The attack was led by Colonel Saw Lah Pwe (Bo Nha Khan Mwe) of the DKBA Brigade No. 5 who rejected orders to join other DKBA troops, who had transformed into a Border Guard Force (BGF) under the Burmese Army’s command.

As of November 9 on Tuesday morning, the DKBA troops retreated from the town and many civilians have now started to return home.  About 4000 town residents including women and children had crossed over to the Thai side yesterday fearing that the Burmese army troops would return during the night to launch an offensive against the Karen rebels. Local civilians were taking refuge at the Plain Japan village which is under New Mon State Party’s control.

Mi Khaing, a Three Pagodas Pass resident said, “We packed our belongings and crossed the border into Thailand because the Karen soldiers told us to leave for our safety”.

According to a military observer who lives in Sangkhlaburi, the TPP area is difficult for the Burmese Army to reinforce their troops unless they have air power to back up their ground troops.  According to an earlier report, the Karen troops had planned to attack during the General Election in Burma on Sunday, November 7, 2010.