Villagers in the Thandaung area were frightened by a Burma Army helicopter that repeatedly flew over their homes last week – the area is under the Karen National Union’s Taungoo District and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army 2nd Brigade.
Local sources said that the helicopter flew to Tate Pu military camp on January 1 and to Bu Hsa Khi and Bawgali camps on January 2. It was believed that the helicopter was carrying high ranking military officers – General Hla Min from the Defense Ministry, General Aung Kyaw Zaw from Southern Regional Command and Brigadier General Win Bo Shein, Commander of Division 66.
The increased Burma government military presence in the region is a concern to Karen National Union officials. Padoh Saw Eh Wah, District chairperson of KNU’s Taungoo District said it is well known that since the ceasefire between the government and the KNU, government troops are reinforcing their camps with concrete and metal in the KNU 2nd Brigade.
Padoh Saw Eh Wah told Karen News.
“Instead of withdrawing during the ceasefire period, the government troops are making hundreds of its military camps in our area stronger. They continue sending supplies. Looking at the situations, it is a worry. They [Burma military] are attacking the Kachin now. No one is secure, there are thoughts that it could be the Shan or Karen next.”
Padoh Eh Wah said that were seven battalions of government troops in his area, including Infantry Battalion 1, 4 and 45. Local people say that although it is ceasefire period, villagers are scared to go near or around the army camps, as there is still a security risk for them to travel and work on their farms.
Pdoh Saw Eh Wah noted that the government troops this year have stopped forcing local villagers to be porters to carry their supplies to their frontline camps as they did in previous years.
A local villager who asked not to be named told Karen News.
“For me, even though the government and KNU made a ceasefire agreement, I haven’t felt the benefits of peace yet. I haven’t seen any of the government troops’ withdrew, I am still worry that the fighting could restart at anytime.”
Senior army officers flying into the area in helicopters has become common since the ceasefire agreement.