The Karen National Union (KNU) has confirmed that it seized control of a military base near the Thai-Myanmar border in Kayin (Karen) State’s Myawaddy Township on Wednesday.
KNU spokesperson Padoh Saw Taw Nee told Myanmar Now that the base, located in Thay Baw Boe, a village in the southern part of the township, fell after a full day of fierce fighting.
“Our sources on the ground just told us that they have taken the base. The battle was very serious, and the junta even launched multiple airstrikes. But we can now confirm that the base has fallen and we have control over it,” he said.
The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the KNU’s armed wing, and allied anti-regime forces began clashing with junta troops near the base on Wednesday evening and continued fighting through the night and late into the next day, according to the KNU spokesperson.
Sources in the area, which is in KNLA Brigade 6 territory, reported hearing the sound of heavy artillery fire and airstrikes as the fighting intensified.
“The military launched airstrikes and used heavy weapons. It must have been because they knew they were losing,” said a local source who asked not to be identified.
Padoh Saw Taw Nee added that while he was able to confirm the outcome of the conflict, it was still too early to provide complete casualty figures.
However, in a statement released on Thursday, the Cobra Column, an anti-regime group that took part in the attack on the base, said that three members of the joint force were killed, while four others, including the group’s commander, Dar Baw, sustained minor injuries.
According to the statement, six junta troops—two privates, a lance corporal, a corporal, and two sergeants—were captured alive. The total number of enemy soldiers who were killed was still being compiled, it added.
The captured junta troops “are being detained in accordance with the regulations for prisoners of war and given necessary medical treatment,” the group said in its statement.
It also said that the junta carried out a total of 35 airstrikes from its bases in Hmawbi and Taunggoo, using jet fighters such as Yak-130s, K-8s and MiG-29s.
Seized weapons and ammunition included long-range launchers, various MA rifles, grenades, explosives, landmines, a mine detector, a drone, a TS-2000 communication device, and gun shells, it said.
Tensions have been high in eastern Karen State since March 7, when Brigade 6 ordered regime forces to leave Lay Kay Kaw, a town in Myawaddy Township, within three days so that civilians displaced by an earlier offensive could return to the area.
Since then, fighting has broken out on an almost daily basis throughout Brigade 6 territory, including in Myawaddy, Lay Kay Kaw, Waw Lay, Eu Kali Hta, Thae Baw Boe, and Balar Doh.
On March 21, KNLA troops overran a junta base in the village of Maw Khee, also located in Myawaddy Township, seizing a large cache of weapons and ammunition.
Two weeks later, the military reclaimed the base, but only after suffering heavy casualties, according to the KNLA.
In a statement released on May 7, the KNU said that it engaged in more than 500 clashes with junta troops in the previous month.
It also claimed that it killed 356 regime forces, including members of Border Guard Forces, over the same period.