A former Karen National Liberation Army Captain, who defected to the Burmese Army, was killed in an attack by his former battalion, sources in the KNLA said.

Defector KNLA Captain killed in ambush
by Don Talenywun
Monday, 14 September 2009 14:11

Mae Sot (Mizzima) – A former Karen National Liberation Army Captain, who defected to the Burmese Army, was killed in an attack by his former battalion, sources in the KNLA said.

Captain Ta Baw, who defected to the ruling military junta last year, was killed on September 5, during an ambush by soldiers of KNLA’s 6th Brigade’s Battalion 201.

The former KNLA officer earlier this year was assigned by the military junta, officially known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), to work with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, a splinter group that broke away from the KNLA.

While the Captain retained his rank either side – the KNLA and Burmese Army – did not consider his defection of any great significance.

The Captain, after defecting leaked intelligence to the DKBA and SPDC about Wah Lay Kee’s defences, the former base of the KNLA’s 201 battalion, which earlier this year was overrun by the joint forces of the DKBA and the Burmese Army.

Wah Lay Kee fell on April 28, when the KNLA pulled out after a 14-day siege that left many dead and scores injured.

Ta Baw was killed by landmines – stepping on to a mine and staggering onto another – during an ambush launched by the KNLA, the armed wing of the Karen National Union, which is the longest operating insurgent group in Burma, that has fought the central government for over 60 years. KNLA sources said, the DKBA Captain Ta Baw died of blood loss in the field, during the skirmishes, where two other Burmese soldiers were also wounded, with one reportedly dying later.

The attack occurred in the Kanelay area of Karen State, in the mountainous areas between Wah Lay Kee and Umphiem Mai refugee camp, to the south of Thailand’s border town of Mae Sot.

Colonel Nerdah Mya, a KNLA commander, said neither the Burmese Army nor the DKBA would cry over Ta Baw’s death.

“They don’t care,” he said.

“It’s just another dead Karen, better we die fighting each other in their eyes,” Col Nerdah Mya, said.

On Monday, Colonel Nerdah, who is currently in the field, backed a claim made last week by KNU Vice President David Thackrabaw that DKBA leaders are feuding.

“That’s right, they know that if the KNU is eliminated then they will be next,” he said. “They’ve got to be smarter than that, surely.”

Following the KNLA’s defeat of the 7th Brigade, during June and July, KNLA commanders expected a rapid advance to their 5th Brigade. But so far the anticipated attack on KNLA 5th Brigade, near Mae Sariang, across the Moei River, has not occurred.

Thackrabaw last week said the 7th Brigade was the KNLA’s weakest, still reeling after former Brigadier-General Htein Maung’s defection in 2006 to form the KNU/KNLA Peace Council.

Peace Council vehicles, once boldly emblazoned with the militia’s name, still move around Mae Sot, but have been stripped of all markings, some observers suggesting they too have fallen foul of Thai authorities.

Thailand early this year demanded all KNLA commanders and senior KNU figures leave safe havens in Thailand, upping the pressure on the ethnic army that has in the past enjoyed cordial relations with senior Thai military figures.

The KNLA in recent months has been facing a joint military operation launched by the Burmese Army and the DKBA, with some observers suggesting that the junta is campaigning to eliminate them.

The KNU, which took to arms since Burma’s independence from British colonials in 1947, has been waging war against successive military regimes demanding self-determination and greater autonomy.

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