Saturday, June 18, 2011

Burma army shelling displaces 200 villagers

June 17 |

Fighting this week between Karen fighters and Burma army soldiers forced 200 villagers from Mae Ka Tha out of their homes. Mae Ka Tha village is located in the Three Pagodas Pass area in Kyain Seikgyi
Township, Karen State.

On June 10, Karen fighters attacked the Burma army Light Infantry Brigade 563 based near the monastery of Mae Ka Tha village. According to a resident the Burma army responded with heavy artillery and shells landed in the village.

The villager, unnamed for security reasons, told Karen News.

“As the fighting broke out, villagers quickly grabbed a few of belongings and ran into the jungle, including the monks. Some villagers also fled to Three Pagodas Pass, Maw Pha Htaw, or Mine village and others made their way to Thai border. Only the village leaders and the pastor are left in the village.”

A religious leader, from the Three Pagodas Pass, who also asked not to be named, told Karen News that these 200 displaced villagers are in dire and urgent need of shelter, food, clothes and clean drinking water.

“Villagers are in very difficult condition. Right now, they need food and shelter. Since there has been raining, firstly they need shelter. We are trying to contact people who can provide these assistance to them.”

At the time of writing villagers have yet to receive assistance.

When questioned by Karen News in regard to the displacement of the villagers, the Commander Captain Bu
Gay, the second-in-command of the Karen National Liberation Army, Battalion 16, who led the fighting, confirmed their attack but argued that the it was the Burma army shelling of the village that displaced people.

“It’s true that we attacked, but villagers fled because the Burma army soldiers have been threatening villagers with heavy artillery when they are attacked. The villagers fled because of their shelling.”

This is the second time this month the villagers of Mae Ka Tha village have been forced from their homes – the first time many people out of 90 households had to run.

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