By Kantarawaddy Times
The Burma Army (BA) allegedly burned villagers alive and set fire to homes during fierce fighting with the Karenni Army (KA) and the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) between Hpruso and Bawlakhe townships.
According to a KNDF officer from Battalion 16, the BA murdered two civilians from Kwit Thit and torched three houses when they withdrew from the fighting. They also burnt down a house in Thayar Kon, where resistance groups engaged in five hours of fighting with regime soldiers last Friday. KNDF fighter Paul Luu, 43, was killed by shelling and 5 BA fighters died during clashes.
At press time, Kantarawaddy Times hadn’t yet identified the villagers killed by the junta.
”The villagers didn’t have time to flee their homes when the soldiers burnt them alive inside,” said the KNDF officer, explaining that most of the residents fled the same day, as did villagers from Salelon and Bu Khu. Thayar Kon and Taw Khu Thit were already empty after the residents fled the fighting that took place several months ago.
In Demawso Township, the KNDF discovered the grizzly remains of three civilians in a house in Sin Tawng, with ammunition casings scattered next to their smouldering bones. The civilian resistance group believes that the BA killed them last week during their offensive in the area around the village.
According to Karenni civil society organisations, BA soldiers have killed and burnt alive many civilians in Karenni State in the last year since the military coup.
The KNDF spokesperson advises civilians to be extremely cautious during the regime’s offensive against the Karenni resistance and warns against an escalation of fighting during the conflict, which he says is inevitable. ”The BA will kill anyone it encounters on the front line during its military operation,” he explained.
According to the spokesperson, at least 35 BA soldiers were killed in fighting in Ngwe Tawng village tract in Demawso Township last Saturday, while four People’s Defence Force fighters from the township were injured.
In the evening of the same day, regime forces shelled villages. Displaced villagers have already been forced to flee several times as the BA continues to advance into Demawso Township after over 1,000 soldiers from three columns captured Mobye, a gateway town in nearby southern Shan State.
According to the civil conflict data collection group Progressive Karenni People’s Force, the regime has fought the Karenni resistance 187 times and killed at least 221 people since the fall of the democratic government just over a year ago.