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God's Army holding out at beseiged jungle camp

By Wassana Nanuam, Bangkok Post
28 January 2000

God's Army's jungle base at Kamaplaw has not been over-run, despite reports to the contrary, army chief-of-staff Gen Montrisak Boonkong said yesterday.

A Burmese government force had, however, taken a Karen National Union camp at Ban Mae Phia Lek, opposite Ban Khok Mu and the Khao Chong Krachom border pass in Suan Phueng district, Ratchaburi.

A report said the Kamaplaw camp was attacked late on Tuesday following days of heavy shelling. The report, quoting a KNU officer, said Johnny and Luther Htoo, the 12-year-old twins who purportedly lead the rebels, disappeared during the attack.

An army source said yesterday that the 200-strong God's Army force protecting Kamaplaw was still able to withstand heavy attacks. From a border patrol police position at Hill 1000 at Khao Chong Krachom, soldiers of God's Army could be seen still well entrenched, he said. The source said Johnny, or Kyaw Ni, a Burmese student who took part in the seizure of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok in October, and the young twins had fled Kamaplaw believing the camp would soon be over-run, but it had been kept secret so the defenders' morale would not suffer.

Johnny, the student, had not taken part in the Ratchaburi hospital seizure but sent Beda, also known as Preeda or Nui, instead. Beda was killed along with nine other guerrillas.

"In fact, Beda did not want to come because he was about to marry his girl friend, but God's Army insisted that he act as the guide. Johnny was fortunate to have escaped death," the source said. The source confirmed one of the 10 rebels killed was Beda's girl friend.

He said the Burmese military attache had reported to Rangoon confirming that Johnny was not among the dead. Supreme Commander Gen Mongkol Ampornpisit, when asked whether Johnny was still alive, said, "Let's not pay attention to him." He also downplayed the possibility of God's Army taking revenge on Thai targets.

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