Karen refugees in Nu Po refugee camp are living in fear because of repeated clashes between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and units of the Burmese army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) over the weekend.
Major clashes took place over three days in Kawkareik Township in southern Karen State, where Battalion 103 of the KNLA, the military wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), is based.
About eight DKBA soldiers were killed, one KNU soldier died and two were seriously injured in the clashes, said Capt Kye Win of Battalion 103. Dozens of causalities on both sides were also reported, he said.
Karen refugees in Nu Poe camp are afraid of more outbreaks of fighting and a possible attack on the camp, said camp refugees.
“Some people here have been on standby alert for four days. Women especially are very afraid of more fighting,” said Daniel, a refugee in Nu Po camp.
“They’ve pack their belongingness to be ready to flee the camp if attacked, because there is no security here,” he said.
Capt Kye Win said an estimated 400 DKBA soldiers and Burmese army troops have been reinforced and plan to launch more attacks against KNLA soldiers in Kawkareik Township.
KNLA’s Battalion 103 and 201 are experiencing repeated clashes, he said.
The DKBA has publicly claimed it army will overrun the KNLA’s military bases on the border by 2010, said Karen sources, who say the aim of the DKBA is to control the region in order to establish business relationships with Thai authorities The region is rich in teak, gold, zinc and tin.
In 1995, after the DKBA split from the KNU, it staged daring attacks on Karen refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border with the help of Burmese troops.
In 1997 and 1998, Huay Kaloke refugee camp, about 10 km from Mae Sot, was attacked and burned down by the breakaway Karen soldiers, now known as the DKBA.