The position is about 15 km (nine miles) from a larger camp that the Karen National Liberation Army stormed and burned 10 days earlier.

Guerrilla soldiers from Myanmar’s Karen ethnic minority set fire to a government military outpost on Friday after capturing it without a fight when its garrison fled, a senior Karen official said.

The position is about 15 km (nine miles) from a larger camp that the Karen National Liberation Army stormed and burned 10 days earlier. The KNLA is the armed wing of the Karen National Union, the main political organization representing the Karen minority, whose homeland is in eastern Myanmar.

The Karen and Kachin of northern Myanmar are the two main armed ethnic organizations that allied themselves with the movement against the junta that seized power in Myanmar after the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February. .

The role of ethnic fighting groups has become more prominent as the number of people joining street protests in Myanmar towns and villages has declined, largely due to the deadly violence increasingly used by civilians. security forces to suppress them. Hundreds of protesters and passers-by died.

There is now a daily struggle between the government and the Karen and Kachin military forces.

A shadow government of national unity formed by enemies of the junta announced this week the formation of a “People’s Defense Force” to serve as a precursor to a “Federal Union Army” of democratic forces comprising of ethnic minorities, emphasizing the major rule they can play.

Video provided to The Associated Press on Friday showed KNLA soldiers inside the U Thu Hta base – a cluster of wooden buildings and trenches dug in a forest – inspecting mortar shells left by the government army. The camp is close to the Salween River, which marks the border with Thailand.

“Yesterday our troops fired a few shots and today when we approached there was no one there, so we just entered,” KNLA Major General Ner Dah Mya said on Friday. .

Fighting between the guerrillas and the Burmese army has intensified since last year, but intensified after the army seized power.

The Karen National Union has been fighting for greater autonomy in the region for decades. He denounced the February coup and sheltered opposition supporters who escaped arrest. In addition to facing the army on the battlefield, the KNLA is said to have trained hundreds of young militants from the towns in the basics of guerrilla warfare.

The attack raised the likelihood of retaliatory airstrikes by the Burmese military and an influx of refugees trying to flee to Thailand. Burmese military jets have launched around 30 attacks since the end of March, targeting Karen villages as well as KNLA positions, according to humanitarian groups active in the region.

Several thousand people crossed the Salween River on their way to Thailand in April, but Thai authorities insisted they return to Myanmar.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last week that 40,000 people had been newly displaced in Karen territory by the intensification of fighting between the government and the KNLA and by “indiscriminate attacks” by the Burmese army against civilian areas.

Many displaced villagers hid in the jungles, caves and valleys.