By MIN LWIN
A Burmese senior commander was killed in an ambush by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) on Monday in Bawgaligyi in Karen State, The Irrawaddy has confirmed with Burmese and KNLA sources.
A KNLA source said that as Brig-Gen Kaung Myat, the commander of No 5 Military Operation Command based in Taungoke in Arakan State, was en route to Bawgaligyi, soldiers in the KNLA 2nd Brigade ambushed and killed him and several body guards.
No other casualties were reported. The clash involved around 100 Burmese and KNLA troops.
Military analysts said it was the first time since 1948 that KNLA soldiers have killed a top-level Burmese commander.
Brig-Gen Kaung Myat had reportedly been aggressively using force labor in the area, ordering villagers to construct roads and perform other work in Pegu Division in Karen State. Kaung Myat, 49, had served as the commander in MOC (5) since 2008. He graduated from the Defense Service Academy, 23rd intake.
According to KNLA reports, 225 armed Burmese soldiers, including 12 officers, have been killed in the first quarter of 2009, and 434 soldiers were injured.
The KNLA has fought the Burmese government since 1948. Its headquarters was overrun in 1995, and its area of engagement has since moved to the eastern Burmese-Thai border area.
Since then, the KNLA has used guerilla-like tactics and based small units in temporary jungle camps along the border.