[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Burmese Rebels Celebrate Revolt

 .c The Associated Press 


Associated Press Writer 

TEAKAPLAW, Burma (AP) -- Burma's ethnic Karen rebels marked 48 years of
revolt Friday, but celebrations were muted because thousands of refugees who
were burned out of their homes this week feared new attacks. 

The Karen National Union, backed by most ethnic Karens living along the
rugged border with Thailand, accused Burma's military government of taking
part in Tuesday night's attack, which left two Karen refugee camps in
Thailand in ashes. 

Gen. Bo Mya, the Karen National Union's commander, said Burma's State Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC) had planned and supported the operation
carried out by the rival Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. 

``That night, it was not only DKBA forces who came to burn and kill, but also
Burmese soldiers,'' Bo Mya told reporters. ``Mortars were fired from Burma
into Thailand. Only SLORC can do that.'' 

At least 7,000 people were left homeless by the raids on the camps at Huay
Kalok and Huay Bong in Thailand, where hundreds of houses burned. A Thai
merchant and two refugees were killed. 

Though cross-border raids into Thailand are common, the scale of Tuesday's
raid was unprecedented. 

Thousands of Karen refugees were camped on rattan mats by the roadside near
Huay Kalok on Friday, and planned to move deeper into the Thai jungle for

Thailand has moved in military reinforcements, including armored personnel
carriers, to defend the area against further intrusions. 

Heavy security was in place at Mae La, a third camp that was shelled
Wednesday morning after Thai defense forces repelled a ground attack. The
camp holds 25,000 people. 

At his headquarters in Teakaplaw, just inside the Burmese border from
Thailand, Bo Mya stood in a jungle clearing Friday and saluted a 100-man
color guard and the Karen flag. Women and children sang patriotic songs. 

The 69-year-old general told reporters that cease-fires arranged by the
government with 15 other insurgency groups over the past few years were

Three of them -- representing the Karenni, Shan and Mon groups -- recently
have broken ranks and resumed fighting alongside the Karen, he said. Recent
negotiations between the government and the rebels have gone nowhere. 

``We have talked to SLORC four times already,'' Bo Mya said. ``We hope that
we can negotiate with them, but so far nothing has changed.'' 

More than 70,000 people from Burma live in refugee camps in Thailand. The
ethnic minorities who live in Burma's border areas face harsh treatment from
the Burmese military. 

The U.S. State Department has condemned the attacks and called on Burma to
end its support ``for repression and violence against the ethnic

AP-NY-01-31-97 1705EST