Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Ten Civilians Killed As Burma Army Increases Presence In Karen State

Wed, 2008-01-16 05:26
London, 16 January, ( Over 90 Burmese Army battalions, comprising between 11,000 and 14,000 troops, are operating in Karen State, potentially poised for another major offensive.

At least 10 villagers have been killed in the same State in the last two months as the Burma Army continues to launch attacks against civilians. Hundreds have fled attacks, thousands remain in hiding and living conditions are so extreme as many are unable to return to their villages and farms.

According to reports from the Free Burma Rangers, the Army has been consolidating its presence in the regions it took control of during the 2006-2007 offensive, by expanding its network of camps and roads. These new road developments will supply all the army camps in the area. However, it has made travel very difficult for villagers, Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and those providing aid. Since the beginning of 2006, over 54 new army camps have been built. The troop presence amounts to a 50 per cent increase since the height of the offensive in 2006.

The Burmese Army has been shelling villages and IDP sites in Karen State and killing civilians whilst on their patrols. Toungoo District remains the most vulnerable region in northern Karen State. In this district alone, it is estimated that there are now around 7,000 people in hiding from the regular attacks launched on villages and IDP populations. The Burmese Army is constructing two new roads in Toungoo District to link their camps and now have over 27 battalions in the district. Villagers face forced labor on a daily basis, being made to act as road-clearers, minesweepers and porters.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert, said: “The world was shocked by the killings of demonstrators in the cities of Burma in September 2007. However, the ongoing horrific attacks against the ethnic groups of Burma are less well known despite the fact that they have taken place for almost 60 years. We condemn the onslaught of the Burmese Army against its innocent civilians and urge the international community to assist ethnic groups like the Karen people through direct aid and diplomatic action.”- Asian Tribune -

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