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Burma's Karen rebels call for unity

Burma's Karen rebels call for unity

      MAE SOT, Thailand, Nov 4 (Reuter) - Burma's Karen rebels, who have been
battling the central government for autonomy for generations, called for
unity among the Karen people while they negotiate with Rangoon to end their

    The Karen National Union (KNU), said in a statement obtained by Reuters
on Saturday the opportunity for peace could be wasted if unity were lost. 

    ``This is the most important time for the KNU as we negotiate with the
SLORC,'' the statement said. 

    The guerrillas have met representatives of the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) several times this year, and another round of
talks is due this month in the southeastern Burmese town of Pa-an, guerrilla
sources said. 

    ``We must be careful as we present our opinions to the SLORC and we
appeal to all Karen people to remain united and not be misled. If we are not
united we will surely lose this opportunity,'' the statement said. 

    The statement, published on Friday, was distributed among the 70,000
Karen refugees living in camps along the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese
frontier as well as inside Burma, a guerrilla source said. 

    A serious split developed in the KNU late last year when several hundred
Buddhist fighters mutinied against their mostly-Christian leaders and joined
forces with the governement army. 

    The mutineers then assisted government forces in a successful assult on
the KNU's headquarters at Manerplaw in southeastern Burma on the border with

    The KNU, which has been fighting for autonomy since 1949, is one of the
last guerrilla armies in Burma still fighting the government. 

Reut02:33 11-04-95