Mahn Sha, the general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU) was shot dead on Thursday afternoon at his home in Mae Sot, Thailand, according to KNU sources.David Takapaw, the joint-secretary of the KNU, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that Mahn Sha was shot by two unknown gunmen on Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. in his home near the center of Mae Sot.
According to the only eyewitness, a Karen girl, the two men pulled up in front of the house in a black car. “The two men climbed the stairs of his home and said ‘good evening’ (in Karen language) to Mahn Sha.”
“Then they shot him twice in the left side of his chest. He died immediately,” the girl added.Mahn Sha was general secretary of the KNU, which has faced serious internal conflicts since the death of its charismatic leader, Gen Saw Bo Mya, in December 2006.Majoring in history at Rangoon University in 1962, Mahn Sha joined the Karen movement in the jungle at the Thai-Burmese border as soon as he finished his studies. He was seen as one of the leading lights in the KNU and was being groomed to take over the troubled KNU leadership. He was 64.The KNU has been plagued with recent conflicts. Last year, Maj Gen Htain Maung, former leader of the KNU’s 7th Brigade, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military regime. This was seen as yet another blow to KNU leaders who lost their fortified headquarters at Manerplaw to the Burmese army in 1995.
There have recently been several attacks and assassination attempts between mainstream KNU members and the breakaway 7th Brigade, now known as KNU/KNLA Peace Council.Last month, Colonel Ler Moo, the son-in-law of breakaway leader Htain Maung, was killed in a bomb attack while sleeping at a communications office near the group’s headquarters. He had earlier survived an assassination attempt in April 2007 while crossing the Moei River by boat.Mahn Sha was involved in ceasefire talks with the Burmese military regime in the past. He was highly respected among both ethnic and Burman allies. The Burmese regime saw him as a strong leader in the KNU who repeatedly called for genuine political dialogue.He is survived by two daughters and a son.