A clash between The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karen National Union (KNU) happened due to a lack of communication and because the groups’ territories were ill-defined said a KNU spokesperson.
The clash took place in Yebyu Township in Tanintharyi Region on 8 September.
Pado Win Khaing, the head of the KNU’s Dawei (Tavoy) District Liaison Office, said to IMNA: “When we looked back, we saw the weaknesses. The first weakness was a lack of clarity in defining territory, another was lack of communication and as a result fighting unexpectedly broke out. I haven’t heard of anyone being injured. They [the NMSP] told us that no one on their side was injured.”
He explained that it was not a close encounter between the two armed groups and that they had unintentionally fired at each other from a distance.
According to him the troops from both sides need to negotiate and the headquarters of both armed groups may also need to negotiate, if necessary.
He said: “Nothing significant has happened since the incident. We have made contact with the local head of the NMSP. The NMSP invited us to a meeting a long while ago. We have submitted [details] about the meeting to our superiors but we still haven’t heard back from them. We also submitted them [the meeting details] again yesterday. We were told that our superiors would discuss it in the evening and reply to us.”
The skirmish took place for 40 minutes near ThèChaung Village in the Ah Lel Sa Khan Village Group of Kalain Aung Sub-Township in Yebyu Township. A few houses, including the village administrator’s house, were damaged.
Officials from the Tavoy District NMSP wrote to and telephoned the KNUs Myeik-Tavoy District Liaison Office to negotiate with its officials.
The eastern area of the Ah Lel Sa Khan Village Group is under the control of the Dawei District branch of the NMSP. It adjoins territory controlled by the Myeik-Dawei District branch of the KNU.
Under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ signed by the former government and the NMSP in 1995 the eastern area of the Ah Lel Sa Khan Village Group was recognised as an active NMSP area. The NMSP has been building new villages and planting and farming plantations in the area.