Resistance fighters from the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) have said they killed 16 junta soldiers last Thursday, and lost two of their own, during a clash near Matupi Township.
The latest round of fighting began on March 26 when the CDF intercepted a junta convoy of around 80 vehicles in Mindat as it headed towards Matupi.
Nway Oo Linn, the Matupi CDF’s information officer, said that around 80 soldiers from Infantry Battalion 304 were also repeatedly ambushed as they made their way to Matupi along the same road.
The ambushes led to the day-long clash on Thursday that killed 16 junta soldiers.
Two CDF fighters aged 18 and 20 died after stepping on landmines laid by the junta soldiers, Nway Oo Linn said, adding that he did not want to identify them because doing so might put their families in danger.
“They’ve been part of the CDF since it was first formed,” he said. “Despite their ages, they joined the armed resistance due to their passion. They were still too young. Their families depended on them. But they fought bravely alongside us until their last breath.”
Several other junta soldiers have been killed since last week by explosives set up by resistance fighters along the road connecting Mindat to Matupi, he added.
“The military has been committing atrocious crimes in our hilly regions,” said Nway Oo Linn. “It’s sad to see that people from [other areas of the country] are acting as if this doesn’t concern them. This revolution is a people’s revolution and we cannot lose our faith in it. I ask for the people to collaborate with us, the local defence forces.”
‘Freedom is never free; it comes at a great price’— KNU
In an interview with Myanmar Now, the Karen ethnic armed organisation’s spokesperson Padoh Saw Taw Nee lauds public support for the resistance movement and condemns a junta-controlled election
More than 60 Karen civil society organisations, including the KWO, released a joint statement late last week calling for the resignation of all KNU central executive committee members with ties to so-called “new city projects,” including illegal casinos and other gambling businesses.
In response, the KNU released a statement on Sunday denying that it had issued any permits for illegal businesses in Karen (Kayin) State.
KNU congresses typically last about a month, and are attended by central executive committee members and representatives from each brigade.
Padoh Saw Liston, the district secretary for KNLA Brigade 6, said he didn’t expect the current congress to last any longer than usual, despite being the first to be conducted online—an innovation, he said, necessitated by the risk of airstrikes.
He added that the Karen public also hopes to see more “political integrity” in the group’s leadership.
“I think the public feels that the leadership’s behaviour should reflect the KNU’s political integrity, so I think there may be some changes. However, everything depends on the representatives’ skills,” he stated.
More than 50 representatives are slated to be elected as members of the KNU’s central executive committee during the congress. The elected representatives will then choose the group’s chair, vice-chair, and secretary general.
KNU territory is divided into seven districts, each one controlled by a different brigade of either the KNLA or the Karen National Defence Organisation, another armed wing under the KNU’s command.