Burma Army Uses Karen Villagers as Human Shields – Threatens to Torch Homes if They Run

Burma Army soldiers forcing Karen villagers to be human shields threaten to burn their houses if the try to leave.

Local sources confirmed to Karen News, residents of Ywa Thit Village, south of Kawkareik Town, in Karen State are living in fear after threats by Burma Army to set fire to their houses if they flee the village.

Fighting between the Burma Army and Karen National Liberation Army continues in the area, soldiers are using the villages as their base and the villagers as human shields.

Villagers told Karen News that as many as 60 soldiers from the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalions 556 and 560 based themselves in Ywa Thit village. A villagers told Karen News soldiers are terrorizing and robbing people.

“Now that the army is living in Ywa Thit village. They go to houses and order people to stay in the village – if they leave soldiers have threatened to burn down their houses. Soldiers are stealing villagers pigs, chickens to cook and eat. Villagers are terrified, the soldiers are shooting their weapons day and night.”

The Burma Army has set up camp in the village and fighting continues on a daily basis. As residents of nearby villages have heard what’s happening in Ywa Thit, hundreds of people from Myo Haung and Ankalaw villages have decided to abandon their homes and seek safety elsewhere.

Burma Army heavy artillery used during the fighting destroyed and damaged many civilians’ homes and injured and killed livestock. Local people confirmed the Burma Army arrested villagers and used them as guides in military operations.

On October 25, a body was found buried outside Ywa Thit village, which was later, identified as Saw Myint Aung, a community leader from An Pha Gyi village. Saw Myint Aung’s relatives living in Ywa Thit village said the last the family saw him was after the fighting on 18 October.

Villagers allege the Burma Army are responsible for the arrest and killing of Saw Myint Aung, last seen when he paid a visit to his relative’s house in Ywa Thit village close to where the Burma Army had made its base at the monastery. A villager explained to Karen News when the fighting broke out Saw Myint Aung “told his relatives that he would stay back to protect their house so they could flee to safety.”

A local villager who is aware of the details of Saw Myint Aung’s case told Karen News. “That was to be the last time his relatives would see him alive… until his body was found buried.”

The Burma Army have been encroaching and operating in the Karen National Union controlled territories in Kawkareik Township since October 1. The KNLA claims it has killed more than 20 Burma Army soldiers and wounded more than 30 since 1st to the 18th October.

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