The split in the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) over joining the contentious Burmese military junta proposed Border Guard Force is now out in the open. Recently, 20 soldiers including a low ranking officer from DKBA’s 999 Brigade joined Col. Saw Lar Pwe Brigade 5. The latter has consistently refused to toe the junta’s BGF line.
Sixteen soldiers including Capt. Saw Balo, a company commander, from Thit Sar Te battalion of DKBA’s 999 Brigade joined Col Saw Lar Pwe on August 6 and three others joined yesterday. They brought along arms and ammunitions with them when they left. Col. Saw Lar Pwe and his brigade is based in Wal Lay area, Myawaddy township, a DKBA commander said.
“They are from Thit Sar Te battalion. The 16 troopers and their families joined on August 6. Three others joined yesterday. They contacted our leaders before joining,” a commander from DKBA Brigade 5 told KIC.
Even though KIC could not contact Thit Sar Te battalion commander Lt. Col. Saw Katon, Lt. Col. Saw Maung Win, a commander of special battalion under DKBA brigade 999, confirmed the joining.
“Well, I know over 10 soldiers left us. They don’t want to be BGF soldiers. They want to remain soldiers of the Monk’s army,” he said.
When they joined Col. Saw Lar Pwe, the renegades brought 20 mortars, machine-guns, assault rifles and ammunition like one 60 mm, one RPG, one M-16 rifle, one M-79, two M-16 launchers and ammunition.
Burmese Army has accepted DKBA troopers, who agreed to be part of the BGF, at Maj. Saw Mauk Thon’s house in Myawaddy. Maj. Saw Mauk Thon is a commander of Kalobaw strategic command under DKBA Brigade 5. The Burmese Army took photographs, bio-data and personal identity numbers of DKBA army personnel when they signed the agreement on the transformation to BGF.
According to unofficial sources, all DKBA brigades will have to attend a BGF badge wearing ceremony in Myein Gyi Nguu special region, headquarters of DKBA, on August 20 except the DKBA Brigade 5.
Six soldiers with arms and ammunition from DKBA 902 battalion reneged and joined battalion 18 of KNU on August and seven soldiers including a platoon leader from special battalion under DKBA 999 joined KNU Brigade 7 on July 11.
DKBA Army has over 4,000 troops and it has brigade 333, 555, 666, 777, 999 and Brigade 5 which is the second strongest largest force and has rejected transformation to BGF.
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