Karen refugees flee further clashes


By NAW NOREEN, dvb
Published: 16 November 2010

Hundreds of refugees have fled a second wave of fighting along Burma’s border with Thailand close to Waw Lay, a former stronghold of a breakaway Karen army faction.

Karen refugees flee further clashes thumbnailEstimates of the number of people sheltering in Thailand’s Phop Phra district, in Tak province, vary: a source on the border told DVB that 350 refugees fled, while the Bangkok Post put the figure at 600.

A week ago some 20,000 people, the majority from Myawaddy town in Karen state, poured into Thailand after clashes erupted between a renegade faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and Burmese troops.

While most of these returned several days later, the situation along the border still remains volatile. The fighting yesterday was triggered after DKBA troops returned to their base at Waw Lay, which was captured last week, and encountered a Burmese army soldiers.

A DKBA official told DVB that troops that the group had also attacked the nearby Bayinnaung Hill and Kanaelay army outposts. The Burmese army retaliated by firing artillery shells into Waw Lay, injuring two villagers who are now in hospital in Thailand’s border town of Mae Sot.

Schools in Myawaddy meanwhile have reopened after closing last week as the town emptied of residents. The main market, where several locals were killed in the crossfire in 8 November, has also been teeming with people since it reopened.

Army checkpoints that were set up along the road into Myawaddy prior to elections have also been removed, although one resident said that toll fee for freight trucks carrying goods from Thailand into Burma have been raised from 50,000 kyat ($US50) to 80,000 kyat ($US80) per truck.

Additional reporting by Aye Nai

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