Military Wiki
Battle of Kawmoora
Part of the Karen conflict
Date19 December 1994 – 21 February 1995
(2 months and 2 days)
LocationKawmoora, Kayin State, Myanmar
Result SLORC victory
Kawmoora is captured by the Tatmadaw.
Myanmar (SLORC)

Karen National Union

All Burma Students' Democratic Front
Commanders and leaders

Maung Aye
Maung Hla
23x15px Lun Thi
Kat Sein
Aye Myint
Aung Thein Lin

Wunna Maung Lwin

Bo Mya
Tamla Baw
Htain Maung
Htaw La

Saw Johnny
Units involved


Karen National Liberation Army
10,000 infantry
100 artillery
1,000 infantry
Casualties and losses
131 killed
302 wounded
2 missing
10 killed, few dozen wounded (KNU claim)
212 killed, 231 wounded (Burmese claim)

The Battle of Kawmoora,[1] also known as the Kawmoora offensive,[2] was the final military offensive launched by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) to capture the Karen stronghold of Kawmoora.

For nearly a decade, the Tatmadaw had been unable to capture Kawmoora through Burmese territory, and instead relied on the aid of Thai authorities to launch artillery at enemy positions inside the stronghold.[2] However, after the fall of Manerplaw, the Tatmadaw was able to advance south and capture Kawmoora on 21 February 1995 after over two months of fighting.[3][4]


The Karen people of Kayin State (also known as Karen State) in eastern Myanmar (also known as Burma) are the third largest ethnic group in Myanmar, consisting of 7% of the country's total population, and have fought for independence and self-determination since 1949.[5] The initial aim of the largest Karen opposition group, the Karen National Union (KNU), was to obtain independence for the Karen people. However, in 1976 they instead began to call for a federal union with fair Karen representation, and the self-determination of the Karen people.[6]

Built in 1985, Kawmoora was a Karen stronghold located at a strategic border crossing that controlled minor trade between Myanmar and Thailand. It was completely surrounded by Thailand, and had a narrow strip of land connecting it to the rest of Myanmar, fortified by a 50 meter long border wall. Merchants paid taxes on goods being transported into Myanmar, but during the late 1980s, trade nearly halted due to constant bombardment from the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces).[1]


After the fall of Manerplaw, the Tatmadaw was able to advance south and reach Kawmoora on 19 December 1994; however, Thai authorities refused to allow the Tatmadaw into Thai territory, and thus the only way into Kawmoora was through a narrow 150 meter wide strip of land connecting it to the rest of Myanmar.[1] This strip of land was dubbed by both sides as "the killing zone", as it became a no man's land littered with corpses of fallen soldiers. Concrete bunkers built by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) guarded the entrance into Kawmoora, which halted infantry advances by the Tatmadaw. Both sides suffered heavy casualties for over two months before the Tatmadaw was finally able to push into Kawmoora on 21 February 1995.[1]

On 21 February 1995, 10,000 soldiers from the Southeastern Command of the Myanmar Army prepared to make a final advance into Kawmoora. Chinese-manufactured 210mm breach loading siege mortars were used to destroy the front-line bunkers of the KNLA, allowing soldiers to advance into Kawmoora. This was the first time the Myanmar Army had used the mortars. Kawmoora was captured on the same day and the KNLA retreated to new bases in Myanmar.[1]


According to the Burmese government, the battle left 131 Burmese soldiers dead, 302 wounded, and two missing, whilst KNLA casualties amounted to 212 killed and 231 wounded. The KNLA however, claim to have only lost ten soldiers to the battle and "a few dozen wounded". Over its nearly ten-year history, three foreigners had been killed in Kawmoora: an American, a Belgian and a Japanese citizen. It has also been alleged that several Chinese military advisers for the Myanmar Army had also been killed in Kawmoora.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Rumble in the Jungle - The Battle of Kawmoora". Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Htun Aung Gyaw, Kawmoora Offensive". Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  3. "Karen stronghold falls to the Burmese junta". Reuters. 21 February 1995. 
  4. Oo, Thaung Wai (2014). အမှတ်တရတိုက်ပွဲများ အမှတ် (၁၇) ဝမ်ခသစ်ခေါ် ကော်မူးရာ စခန်းသိမ်းတိုက်ပွဲကြီး. 
  5. Smith, Martin (1991). Burma : insurgency and the politics of ethnicity (2. impr. ed.). London: Zed Books. ISBN 0862328683. 
  6. "About | Official Karen National Union Webpage". 

External links

Coordinates: 16°47′42″N 98°31′05″E / 16.795°N 98.518°E / 16.795; 98.518

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