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Karen Army: Burma Army Camp Destroyed After Its Soldiers Fire On Unarmed Civilian River Traffic in Northern Karen State

Burma Army soldiers were made to pay a heavy price for a series of unprovoked attacks on unarmed civilians travelling by boat on the Salween River last week.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) launched an offensive against the Burma Army camp in the early morning of Tuesday 27 April. The KNLA attack was successful.

Colonel Saw Kler Doh, spokesperson for KNLA 5th Brigade confirmed the capture of the military regime’s army base to Karen News.

Colonel Saw Kler Doh said the KNLA operation was launched in response to soldiers from the Thaw Lae Hta Burma Army camp shooting at civilian boats traveling on the Salween River, including boats carrying Thai Border Rangers.

Colonel Saw Kler Doh said that it was not acceptable for Burma Army soldiers shooting at civilian boats travelling on Salween River.

“Our troop have taken over the Thaw Lae Hta camp this morning but there are still some clearances that need to be made and we haven’t received any detail reports of casualties from our frontline troops.”

The Salween River is used by traders, villagers, students to get food supplies, education and medical treatment on the Thai side of the border. The Thai Royal Army uses it to ferry its soldiers to remote river bases. In recent months community based groups have relied on it to ferry humanitarian aid to recently displaced communities in hiding from the military regime’s airstrikes and indiscriminate mortar shelling of their villages.

Colonel Saw Kler Doh said as a soldier with respect for international humanitarian laws the military regime’s shooting of unarmed citizens was hard to take.

“Fight military to military. We can’t accept when they go after unarmed civilians. We will do what we can to stop them from harming civilians.”

As of Monday 26 April, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) recorded 753 unarmed civilians protesting the military coup had been killed and 4484 arrested.

Colonel Saw Kler Doh explained the Burma Army did not respect the rights of any people or ceasefire agreements.

“This is our territory… we have the right to be here. We have warned them [Burma Army] to leave peacefully from our land, but they didn’t listen. So, there is no other way than to drive them out.”

The taking of the Thaw Lae Hta camp (Mae Samlaeb), located on the bank of Salween River on the Thai-Burma border, is one of the biggest of the military’s regime’s bases in the Karen National Union’s Mutraw district and KNLA sources expect them to hit back with airstrikes and air-bombardments.

Recent air attacks have heightened concern among villagers that the military regime will again respond to the KNLA’s 5th Brigade soldier’s capture of a Burma Army camp on March 27. The regime launched airstrikes against the KNLA 5th brigade headquarter. The airstrike killed three and injured eight civilians from nearby villages.

Karen community based organizations documented recent Burma Army attacks have killed 20 Karen villagers, injured at least 30 and displaced as many as 20,000 villagers in Mutraw district, northern Karen State.

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