Highway tensions: Security row linked to Tatmadaw, DKBA clashes

Clashes between Tatmadaw and Democratic Karen Benevolent Army troops in Kayin State early this month have been linked to a dispute over security for a section of the Asia Highway between Myawaddy and Kawkareik.

The clashes erupted early on July 2 and involved the Tatmadaw’s Infantry Battalion 231 and DKBA troops commanded by Brigadier-General Saw Kyaw That, Karen News reported. Karen News quoted sources as saying that at least one government soldier was killed in the fighting, which continued until July 4.

A report in the Bangkok Post on July 5 quoted sources in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, opposite Myawaddy, as saying Tatmadaw casualties included at least two dead. Karen News said the fighting came ahead of a planned visit to the area by the Tatmadaw’s divisional commander, General Tin Maung Win, to discuss security and other matters involving the new highway.

As well as arrangements for the highway’s official opening and providing security for infrastructure, Karen News said it believed Gen Tin Maung Win was also expected to discuss the number of tollgates operated by Karen armed groups along the road.

Traders and other road users have been strongly critical of the taxes levied by the groups at the tollgates. The new highway, which has sharply reduced travel times over the Dawna Ranges between Myawaddy and Kawkareik, is due to be officially inaugurated by the end of this month, the Bangkok Post said.

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