ANKARA: An ethnic rebel group on Tuesday morning attacked and seized a military post belonging to the Myanmar ruling junta along the border with Thailand.
The separatist Karen National Liberation Army’s (KNLA) Brigade 5 attacked Myanmar military’s border post in Thaw Le Hta, near the border with Thailand’s Mae Hong Song, and seized the post at about 6 a.m. on Tuesday (2330GMT Monday), according to Irrawaddy News.
Fire engulfed the military post, showed a video posted on social media by a resident of the country’s eastern border. The two sides exchanged heavy gunfire.
“Several casualties were initially reported. At least seven soldiers were seen trying to escape,” the report said quoting local residents of the area.
The KNLA is the armed wing of the Karen National Union or the KNU which has confirmed the attack.
The KNU has been fighting the Burmese government for self-determination since 1949. The ethnic organization operates in the mountainous eastern Myanmar and has underground networks in other parts where Karen people live as a minority community.
The latest attack comes a month after the KNLA captured a hilltop outpost on March 27 which was used by the junta’s Light Infantry Division 349 in Thi Mu Hta.
At least 10 soldiers, including an officer, were killed during the attack while eight other soldiers were detained as prisoners of war by the ethnic rebels.
The takeover of the military post which belongs to the Myanmar junta comes amid mass anti-coup demonstrations in the Buddhist country since February when Tatmadaw – the official name of the Burmese military — took over.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 3,441 people have been arrested since the military occupation on Feb. 1, with 79 of them convicted. At least 753 people have been killed by the ruling junta forces.