Myanmar raids displace hundreds of villagers: Rebel
Mae Sot (Thailand), Mar 25: Myanmar troops drove hundreds of people from their villages in two raids in the rebellious Karen State this month, a Myanmar rebel leader and a Thai border intelligence source said today (Mar 25, 2006).
The troops attacked villages in Taungoo Township, sending people fleeing to a border town across from the northern Thai province of Mae Hong Song, the rebel Karen National Union said.
''They bombarded the villages with heavy artillery, which caused more than 1,000 people in those villages to flee their homes,'' said Manh Sha, secretary-general of the Karen National Union(KNU), the oldest rebel group fighting Yangon.
''There are between 400 and 500 of them still hiding near Mae Hong Son,'' Manh Sha told Reuters by telephone.
Man Shan said KNU troops clashed with Yangon soldiers after the raids and killed 20 of them for the loss of two of their own. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.
Another raid by Yangon troops yesterday across the border from the northern Thai town of Umpang forced 300 civilians to flee to towns near the Thai border, a Thai military source said.
''We learned of a raid by Yangon troops on a Karen base yesterday, but we can't assess the damage nor the casualties now,'' he said.
Since independence from Britain in 1948, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been convulsed by ethnic guerrilla conflicts.