Karen Villagers Flee Three Pagodas Pass in Anticipation of Fighting Between Karen Forces and Burmese Troops

June 13th, 2011

By Independent Mon News Agency – Dozens of Karen villagers who reside in Quarter 4, Taung Wine, in Three Pagodas Pass fled to Three Pagodas Pass yesterday due to fear of renewed conflict between Karen joint forces, who arrived in Three Pagodas Pass yesterday, and Burmese troops.

Three Pagodas PassThree Pagodas Pass

A resident in Three Pagodas Pass said, “Villagers moved to stay on the Thai side yesterday after they heard the joint forces of the Karen armed groups arrived near town.”

Yesterday, June 12th, joint forces from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 6 and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) arrived 5 kilomoters from Three Pagodas Pass and have threatened to seize Three Pagodas Pass.

The Karen joint forces are comprised of 300 troops and have made a demand to the Burmese government troops to withdraw its troops from Mae Khasa village by today. The Karen joint forces have threatened to seize Three Pagodas Pass if their request is not fulfilled.

The Burmese Army’s Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 563, under the control of the Western Command in Arakan State, is based in Mae Khasa village, and holds around 100 troops.

“The authorities in Three Pagodas Pass have told them [the joint forces] yesterday to wait for the answer from Regional Southeast Command to withdraw from the base,” said a source close to the Burmese authorities in Three Pagodas Pass.

The Karen joint forces have not only threatened to seize the town, but also the main base of government troops, where the LIB No. 284, under the control of the Regional Southeast Command in Moulmein, resides.

Recently just two Burmese battalions have been deployed to Three Pagodas Pass: LIB No. 563 and LIB No. 284. Combined these two battalions have 200 troops.

“The joint forces have more troops than them [the government troops]. This is why they are afraid of the joint forces coming to attack the town,” said an observer of the government troops.

“They [the government troops] only wear uniforms at the military check point. Many of them now wear civilian clothes and stay at the Peace and Development Administration Office in town,” said Lawi Mon, a Three Pagodas Pass resident.

“It seems that when the attack comes, they will mix with the civilians for their safety and the civilians will get shot because they [the government troops] are mixing with the civilians,” said Lawi Mon.

The Thai border authorities led negotiations between the government troops and the joint Karen forces last week. But, the negotiations failed after the joint forces asked the government troops to withdraw from the base in Mae Khasa village.

Meanwhile, residents in Three Pagodas Pass have closed their shops and restaurants as the deadline for the withdrawal of Burmese troops from Mae Khasa village was set for today. Some people have prepared food in advance so that they are able to run if the Karen joint forces attack.

Fighting between government troops and Karen armed groups occurs often in Three Pagodas Pass. The latest attack on Three Pagodas Pass occurred on June 5th, when a military intelligence officer and a girl were killed from a bomb blast, while four others were wounded.

Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=2967

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