Padoh Taw Nee, Head of the KNU Foreign Affairs Department explained in an earlier interview with Karen News the Burma military’s strategy against civilians in ethnic areas is to first use ground troops to bomb villages and force the people to leave. Then when KNU defends the displaced villagers, drones and or spy planes are used to locate where people are hiding and airstrikes are ordered.
“From our experience in our Brigade 5, when there’s fighting between our soldiers and the Burma Army, the military junta retaliates with airstrikes targeting civilians. These people are not military targets. It forces tens of thousands of our people to be displaced in jungles and risks crossing the border to safety.”
In his interview with Karen News Padoh Taw Nee stressed at the time the “high possibility this will happen again in the [Lay Kay Kaw] areas. There have already been several fly-overs, a sure sign airstrikes will be used.”
Padoh Taw Nee urged the international community, “especially the UN to take the initiative for calling an emergency Security Council meeting and to set up and enforce ‘No Fly Zones’ in this area. This will help protect the people.”
A community worker delivering aid to the displaced people, told Karen News, it is unlikely any action will be taken by the UN regarding Padoh Taw Nee’s request for emergency help to stop the Burma military junta from bombing civilians. The community aid worker’s said their scepticism was based on the UN’s ineffectiveness and inaction when ethnic people have been the target of ground attacks and airstrikes in other regions and states.
The aid worker referenced airstrikes against civilians in Magway and Sagaing regions and the firebombing of Thantlang Town in Chin State, when the Burma Army fired incendiary rockets destroying most of the town, burning hundreds of homes and displacing tens of thousands of civilians.
The aerial onslaught against the Karen villagers in the Lay Kay Kaw and surrounding areas began on 23 December at around 11 pm and twice on 24 December, once in the morning around 9 am and in the afternoon around 3:45 pm. While jets bombed the area the Burma Army attacked the villages, firing more than 50 heavy artillery shells.
A local resident who witnessed the airstrikes spoke to Karen News of the Thursday night incident.
“They dropped two bombs from the aircraft. The bombs were dropped around Lay K’paw waterfall and Htee Kaw Taw valley [close to Lay Kay Kaw]. Thankfully, there were no casualties. After that, they [Burma Army] fired heavy artillery nonstop.”
A villager who witnessed the airstrikes on Friday afternoon told Karen News.
“There were two fighter jets. The jets made two rounds of strikes. People in the areas of Lay Kay Kaw are now scared and worried for their safety, they have no protection against airstrikes.”
The combined ground troops of the Burma Army and its sponsored militia, the Border Guard Forces (BGF) began to fire heavy artillery – 60-mm, 81-mm, and 120-mm towards Mae Taw Talay, Palu Gyi, Htee Mae Wah Khee and Yathit Gu villages.
The heavy artillery shelling destroyed village houses and displaced people from Palu Lay village had to cross the river to Thailand where Thai border guard forces offered them temporary shelter.
Karen News is led to understand there have not been any reports of casualties so far, but displaced villagers are terrified of further attacks.
The KNU issued a statement on December 20 calling for the United Nations to set up a no-fly zone as it predicted the Burma Army attacks would get worse and the military coup leaders would launch airstrikes.
Meanwhile, foreign ambassadors in Rangoon including Australia, Canada, the Delegation of the EU and European Union Member States with presence in Burma: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden; as well as New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States put out a statement condemning the Burma army attacks on civilians in Karen State and across the country.