Insurgents from the Karen ethnic minority attacked and burned a Myanmar army outpost on the Thai border. It was some of the most intense violence since the military, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, seized control of the country.

Saw Taw Nee, the foreign affairs head of the Karen National Union (KNU), told media members that just before dawn on Tuesday, Karen troops attacked, occupied, and then burned down the outpost. He added that fighting was ongoing in other areas but didn’t elaborate.

The Guardian posted a video, reportedly taken from across the Salween River which separates Myanmar from Thailand, that showed several fires and smoke rising from a Myanmar military outpost. Gunfire and explosions can be heard in the background.
Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with the head of the military coup General Min Aung Hlaing in an earlier photo. (Voice of America)

The Karen National Union (KNU) and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), represent the Karen people. They operate out of the eastern mountainous region of Myanmar and have been fighting for self-determination against Myanmar’s government since 1949. They have also clashed with other insurgent groups.

One month ago on March 27, Karen insurgents attacked and occupied a base housing troops of the 394 Light Infantry Battalion. They killed 10 troops, including the deputy battalion commander. The military responded with airstrikes targeting Karen villages. Forty thousand people were displaced from their homes as a result. Between 2,000-3,000 attempted to flee to Thailand but Thai authorities forced them to return to Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Military Breaks Agreement With Ethnic Groups

In 2015, the KNU, several other insurgent groups, and the Burmese government signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) that promised an end to the violence. 

However, after the February 1 coup against the duly elected government, the Myanmar military attacked one of the NCA signatories’ camps, breaking the NCA. 

Amid this backdrop, the Burmese military coup members said they would give “careful consideration” to suggestions from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that held a special summit last weekend. ASEAN leaders called for an end to the violence and urged dialogue with the overthrown duly elected officials.