The fighting on 1 June, 2021, south of Myawaddy Town, close to the village of Palu, was over territorial infringements imposed by the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and ignored by the Burma Army and its militia, the Border Guard Force.
The heavy fighting forced the villagers to leave their village to find safety in nearby villages or to try to cross into neighbouring Thailand.
Palu is a village located on the bank of Moei River which marks the border between Thailand and Burma.
A Palu villager told Karen News the Moei River is now dangerous to cross as the wet season has started.
“Villagers crossing to the Thai side, had to cross the Moei River without boats. The water was chest high. They couldn’t carry any of their belongings with them.”
The fighting is still on-going and is forcing more villagers in the areas to leave for their safety.
Naw Yin Hla, a Palu villager who fled, explained to Karen News, the fighting made her afraid to stay in her village.
“First, we heard the sound of both heavy and small weapons. Later, there were artillery shells… one after another… the sound getting closer and closer. We were afraid to stay, so we ran.”
Local security sources said fighting may have been triggered by an incident where three police officers and one fire-fighter from Waw Lay Myaing was arrested by DKBA troops, led by Major General Kyaw Thet. Sources confirmed Burma Army reinforcements crossed into DKBA restricted territory and fighting then broke out on June 1.
It appears there are splits within the Border Guard force as there have been reports of some local BGF soldiers have allied with Major General Kyaw Thet and have joined forces with the People Defence Force to fight the Burma Army.In an interview with Radio Karen, Major General Kyaw Thet blamed the Burma Army for starting the fight by crossing the DKBA territorial line.
When asked if he had other Karen armed groups and People Defence Force fighting with him Maj. Gen. Kyaw Thet reportedly said.
“We have soldiers from every group. We all acted under one command. There won’t be any fighting if they [Burma Army] listen to our warnings not to come into our areas.”
Maj. Gen Kyaw Thet said his actions are to stand with all the people in opposing the military regime.
“We can’t accept the military taking power. Not just us, but all the people do not want the military regime. It’s time for us to work together with all groups and with the people to uproot the military regime.”
At the moment, it is estimated 400 villagers have fled to Thailand while another 200 displaced villagers are seeking safety in other nearby villages.