Southeast Command orders landmine placement in KNU and DKBA territories

November 16, 2009

HURFOM, Kyainnseikyi: According to HURFOM’s field reporter in Kyarinnseiky Township, Karen State, all Burmese Army battalions in the region under the control of the Southeast Command have been secretly ordered by Lieutenant Major Soe Myit to place landmines in areas controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).

The Burmese Army is currently allied with the DKBA, and the orders are apparently an attempt to falsely implicate KNU forces. KNU sources who have intercepted the orders claim that the message commanded the Burmese military to place landmines in areas five miles outside of villages under DKBA and KNU control, to force villagers to act as porters, and to monitor KNU activities in the region.

According to U Thar, 55, a resident of the area, many villages in Kyarinnseikyi Township have received word that the Southeast Command has ordered it battalions based in the township to arrest around 200 people for portering purposes; the individuals in question would reportedly be used to porter food and munitions for the Burmese Army in preparation for conflicts with the KNU in the upcoming months.

“I heard from Karen friends that the Burmese soldiers arrested many people from their village, which is nearby my village. The rumor spread, and many male villagers from my village have moved to other places to avoid portering. Some left jobs, and others are handling their farms,” said Janue Ong, 32 year-old Mon man from Taungbauk village, Kyainnseikyi Township, Karen State.

According to a KNU member interviewed by HURFOM, the group has managed to intercept the Southeast Command’s orders; this individual informed HURFOM that the orders indicate that the landmine-planting is an attempt to confuse villagers in the region. This source claims that since landmines are unmarked, many villagers living in the KNU-controlled region will assume that the landmines  have been planted by KNU forces, and will side against the group during upcoming battles with the Burmese Army.

“This kind of news should be known by innocent villagers, because they can take care of themselves and avoid being victims of the landmines by avoiding travel outside of their villages. It’s also better for them to understand that the KNU isn’t doing this,” said the KNU member.

This source also informed HURFOM that in the past 5-6 years, roughly 20 villagers in the region have been injured, crippled, have even lost their lives to landmines placed near their villages.

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