Karen State, Burma
12 June, 2009
Villagers continue to flee and thousands remain displaced as attacks intensify against Karen villagers and resistance in Pa-an District
Mortars fired by the Burma Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) landed in Thailand on June 8 and 9.
Intensity of fighting at the frontline increased on June 12 in the KNLA 21st battalion area.
Villagers continue to flee and thousands remain displaced as attacks intensify against Karen villagers and resistance in Pa-an District, central Karen State, eastern Burma. Seven mortars fired by the Burma Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) landed in Thailand on June 8 and 9 according to reports received by the Free Burma Rangers. On June 8 three mortars landed close to Ta Zu Nya, opposite a position held by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the resistance force of the Karen National Union (KNU). Four landed close to Mae Salik village in Tha Song Yang province, Tak district, western Thailand on June 9.
The fighting at the frontline increased on June 12 at 8:30am to 9:30am at the KNLA 21st battalion area (opposite Mae Salik village). The Burma Army and DKBA continuously mortared the area and are reportedly planning to attack KNLA 22 and 101 battalion areas opposite Mae Salik. Some 200 mortars landed in the areas under attack. 60mm, 75mm and 32mm shells were fired.
On June 11, the Burma Army and DKBA attacked the KNLA 22 and 101 battalion areas at 1:25pm and rained 20 mortars on the area. The KNLA resisted this attack and drove them back a short distance. The DKBA Special Tactical Command led by Ner Kha Mwe brought up more soldiers for continuing attacks on this area.
In total there are reported to be some 3,521 people who have fled across the border to U Thu Hta, Noh Bo, Mae Salik and Mae Salik Noi (Kray Hta) in Thailand as a result of the fighting. The attacks on Ler Per Her and the surrounding area began on June 5 with most leaving Ler Per Her Internally Displaced People camp by June 7. On June 9, 12 more families arrived in U Thu Hta, bringing the total at that location to 1,410. They are from Mae La Ah Kee, Mae La Ah Hta, Per New Pu, Wa Mee Kla and Pyo Pawan Lay.
Relief efforts are being coordinated in Thailand by the Karen Refugee Committee with assistance from FBR, Partners Relief and Development and other NGOs. FBR and Partners have sent in clothing, medical supplies, food and blankets. The Thailand Burma Border Consortium has also provided food, shelter, cooking implements, blankets and other relief supplies to those displaced.
Medicine is also being provided by some Thai authorities in cooperation with medical treatment by Karen medics. Thai soldiers have also provided 100 tarps to the displaced people.
The KNLA are deploying 101, 22, 21, 202 battalions and soldiers from the 7th Brigade Headquarters.
The Burma Army battalions involved are Light Infantry Division 22 of Tactical Operations Command 222, Light Infantry Battalions 201, 202, 203, 205, 210 and Infantry Battalion 81. LIBs 338 and 339 remain at their base camps. (There are ten battalions in each Military Operations Command with usually only seven deployed. There are ten battalions in each LID and approximately 120 to 150 soldiers in each Burma Army battalion).
The DKBA, a proxy army of the Burma Army, is deploying 333 Brigade led by Mg Kyi, 555 Brigade led by Pya Pya and 999 Brigade led by Pah Nwee. In these attacks, Mg Chi Thu is the tactical commander. The DKBA is armed with 61mm, 81mm, and 82mm mortars, and .5 machine guns. The aim of the DKBA is to displace villagers who resist their control, control additional territory and crush KNU resistance in their areas.