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1,000 Villagers Flee Their Homes As Fighting Breaks out on the Kawkariek-Myawaddy Asia-Highway

As many as 1,000 villagers living along the Kawkariek-Myawaddy Asia Highway were forced from their homes in Kawkariek Township, Karen State as fighting broke out between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the Burma Army on December 26, 2021.

The fighting took place in the mountains between Kawkariek and Myawaddy near a Karen National Union controlled area. At least nine Burma Army soldiers, including a battalion commander and a company commander were killed and 13 others wounded in the fighting, according to sources from the local KNLA.

A KNLA officer spoke to Karen News about the fighting.

“Our troops intercepted their route. The battalion that came up were around 45 men, more than 20 of them have been injured. They [Burma Army] sent it’s militia, the BGF (Border Guard Force) to pick up the injured soldiers. When we returned fire, they did not dare to advance anymore. A helicopter came around in the evening to pick up injured soldiers.”

During the fighting, the Burma Army in Kawkareik launched artillery shells into villages – Kawt Nwe, An Kaung (Aw Kraw) and Ywa Thit Kone – forcing as many as 1,000 villagers to seek safety elsewhere.

Community groups helping the displaced villagers confirmed this was the second time in recent months villagers had to run from the fighting in the areas.

A community aid provider said fighting in the area prevented villagers from working and earning money to live.

“These people had to run from fighting once in October and now they are on the run again, they don’t have time to work for their daily living.”

Villagers in the area said the Burma Army had sent reinforcements to the areas. Local villagers said they saw two military trucks carrying as many as 100 soldiers to Tadangu village, in Kawkariek Township.

Recently, the recently formed anti-coup Kawkareik People’s Defense Force (PDF) announced it will launch a counterattack on the Burma Army and warned civilians not to travel on the Kawkariek-Myawaddy Asian Highway after 6 pm.

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