The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), an ethnic Karen armed militia, has reorganized its military strategy to speed up future activities, said DKBA sources.
“We held a planning meeting to organize our troops for more effective military tactics. We established two military groups, named Klo Htoo Wah and Klo Htoo Lah—one in the south and one in the north of our area,” said Maj San Aung of the DKBA.
Col Kyaw Thet is assigned to lead the Klo Htoo Wah tactical group and Col Kyaw Bi Koh is assigned to lead Klo Htoo Lah, said San Aung. The DKBA also named Klo Htoo Baw as their headquarters in southern Karen State.
Brig-Gen Saw Lah Pwe will be the commander of the entire DKBA, according to San Aung. On Nov. 8, one day after Burma’s election, Saw Lah Pwe led DKBA Brigade 5 in resisting attacks by government troops after Brigade 5 briefly took control of some government buildings in Myawaddy.
The DKBA intends to cooperate on military matters with the Karen National Union (KNU) and it’s military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), another ethnic armed group that the DKBA broke away from in 1995. At the time, the DKBA signed a ceasefire agreement with the government, but the KNU/KNLA did not.
Htee Moo, a Karen social worker who is close to the DKBA, said that the DKBA top commanders reorganized their military tactics because more troops from the government’s Karen Border Guard Force have deserted to join the DKBA.
“The DKBA will increase fighting alongside its mother organization, the KNU, against the Burmese government troops,” said Htee Moo.
The DKBA is estimated to have more than 1,000 fighters and the KNLA is estimated to have about 4,000 troops.
Currently, fighting occurs almost every day in Karen State, said Htee Moo. Karen observers said that fighting in Karen State between government troops and Karen rebel groups will intensify in the future.
The DKBA earlier changed its military tactics to target urban areas where government offices and buildings are located, rather than fighting in the jungle. The Irrawaddy