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Army sets ablaze Karen villages, 1,000 villagers flee


New Delhi (Mizzima) - The Burmese Army  set on fire around 70 houses in two Karen villages in Bago division forcing over 1,000 villagers to flee, according to armed ethnic organization Karen National Union (KNU).

Between February 7 and 9, two villages were burnt down by Burmese soldiers in Kyauk Kyi Township, Nyaung Lei Pin district in Bago Division and villagers fled to the jungle in search of shelter.

"Over 1,000 villagers fled to the jungle. It happened because they did not toe the junta’s line. The Burmese army burnt the houses as they hate the ethnic Karens," David Tharkabaw, KNU vice-president alleged.

The Burmese Army's Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #363 - regiment 10 and (LIB) #30 - regiment 9 are based in Kyauk Kyi.

This incident occurred after news spread in the area that the Burmese Army would launch an operation called Ye Yan Aung on the KNU brigade #3 based in Kyauk Kyi Township.

The Karen National Union (KNU) is opposed to the Burmese military regime's 2008 constitution and is determined to oppose the 2010 elections.

Major Saw Hla Ngwe, in-charge of News and Information of KNU, said "it is just like taking citizens as hostages and forcing us to submit ourselves to their authority."

"Last month, two villagers were killed and a woman was raped by Burmese soldiers and 12 houses and a school was burnt down," he said. 

One of Burma’s state-run newspapers, The Mirror, today alleged that four KNU insurgents from brigade #7 kidnapped four officials of the land record department and demanded Kyat fifty lakhs (USD 45,000) in a village in Hlaignbwe Township, Karen state.

"The Burmese army has accused us of many false cases.  We don’t collect tax. They are making various allegations because we are opposed to their proposed 2010 election and 2008 constitution," the KNU vice-president said.

There are about 4,000 refugees currently taking shelter in seven refugee camps in Tak Province, Thailand along the border with Burma after they fled abuse following joint military offensives by the DKBA and Burmese Army against the KNU forces in Pha-an district in June last year.

Though several human rights and social organizations had appealed to the Thai government not to deport refugees because their lives were at stake in the area where they are going to be sent back, some refugees including children and women of three families from Noe Boe Refugee Camp in Tak Provice, Thailand were deported to Burma.

The Karen ethnic armed groups, both DKBA and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) made it clear through the media that they will not take any responsibility for landmine explosions.

The KNLA is the military wing of the KNU. The DKBA broke away from the KNU in 1994 and has a ceasefire with the junta.

The KNU was founded in 1948 for political settlement and wants a federal Burma.

Last Updated ( Friday, 12 February 2010 23:25 )  

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