In Warikawku and Pikinkawku villages, west of Loikaw town in Karenni State, more than 4,000 local residents fled to nearby villages for their safety after junta troops deliberately fired mortar shells into their communities during the past two days, October 25 and 26. Seven civilians were injured yesterday and a 5-year-old child was killed.
“A shell fell in the middle of this village, causing dead and injured people, so there was a lot of fear,” said a resident of Pikinkawku. A member of the Kayan Youth Rescue Charity, who helped with the evacuation of the dead and injured, said that yesterday’s shelling lasted from 9 a.m to 11:30 p.m., and came from the eastern side of Pekhon township, to the immediate north of Loikaw township. He also reported hearing small arms fire. Residents say two homes in Warikawku and one in Pikinkawku were destroyed by the shelling.
Fierce fighting continued today, October 27, according to a spokesman for the Karenni National Defense Force Battalion 3 (KNDF B-03).
Locals are also worried that the annual rice crop near the two villages could be lost, since now is the time to harvest it. “We have to harvest so we can repay our loans, but the junta’s weapons fire makes it dangerous to go to the fields. Even if we can cut the paddy, will we be able to dry and thresh it?” wondered U Khu Lo, a local farmer. Rice is the main crop in this area, and so far the farmers have only been able to harvest one-third of their paddy.
Inability to plant and harvest rice in war zones impacts not only local incomes and food supply, but the national food situation as well.