BANGKOK (AP) – Ethnic Karen guerrillas have said they captured a Myanmar army base on Tuesday, raising morale for those opposed to the army taking over civilian rule in February.
A spokesman for the National Unity Party, a key minority political group seeking greater autonomy from Myanmar’s central government, said the group’s militia attacked the base at around 5am and set it on fire just after dawn.
The details of the case were not immediately available, according to KNU Foreign Minister Padoh Sav Tau Ni. There was no immediate comment from the Myanmar military government.
The KNU, which controls the area east of Myanmar near the border with Thailand, is a close ally of the resistance movement against the military that overthrew the ousted government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
A video shot by Thailand on the border shows fire rising from government positions on the banks of the Salouin River amid heavy gunfire. The river marks the border with Thailand.
A report by the Karen Information Center, an online news site, quoted an unnamed villager on the Thai side of the river as saying he had seen seven government soldiers trying to escape from a camp outside the Thai village of Ma Sam Laep.
Fighting has been raging since February between KNU militants and the Karen Myanmar military.
Myanmar planes have bombed and shelled Karen villages, and its army has deployed fresh battalions in the area to prepare for a possible large-scale attack.
As many as 25,000 villagers have fled their homes and are hiding in jungles and caves, according to the Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian aid group active in the area.
In response, the KNLA continued its guerrilla attacks on Myanmar patrol bases. The KNU also provided shelter to anti-government activists who had fled government crackdowns on resistance groups in the cities.
The situation is similar in northern Myanmar, where the Kachin minority claims to have captured several government checkpoints and been targeted by airstrikes.
Karen և Kachin is one of the larger minority groups that has been seeking greater autonomy for decades, during which there have been periods of armed conflict marked by a ceasefire.
The urban resistance movement against the current ruling junta fascinated ethnic guerrilla groups with the hope that they could form a federal army as a counterweight to the government’s armed forces. The Elected ogre National Unity Government, formed by elected lawmakers whose army does not prevent them from taking their seats, has appointed ministers from a number of minority groups.