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NEWS-U.N. Investigating Report that

U.N. Investigating Report that Thai Soldiers Caused Refugee Deaths


               BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) U.N. investigators are
               looking into reports that Thai soldiers caused the
               deaths of two Burmese refugees, including an
               infant, and wounded four. 

               "We've had various reports about this incident,"
               said Amelia Bonifacio, the Bangkok representative
               for the United Nations High Commissioner for

               The soldiers fired their weapons for five minutes
               around ethnic Karen refugees in the Thay Pu Law
               Sue camp near the Burma border to intimidate them
               into moving to another location, Karen ethnic group
               activists and aid workers said. 

               As the refugees fled in panic, a 3-day-old infant was
               trampled to death, another refugee was fatally shot
               in the stomach and four were wounded, the activists
               said on condition of anonymity. The condition of the
               wounded was not known. 

               Independent verification of the incident has not
               been possible because the Ministry of the Interior
               has not allowed outsiders into the camp, west of the
               Thai city of Umphang and 210 miles from Bangkok. 

               Bonifacio said investigators were conducting a
               fact-finding mission and would try to enter the camp

               The refugees angered Thai army officers because
               they refused to move to a new location that the
               soldiers said was just a 10-minute walk from a
               Burmese army post, the activists said. 

               More than 100,000 Karen and other ethnic refugees
               from Burma are living in camps in Thailand, having
               fled Burmese army offensives aimed at wiping out
               the Karen National Union, a guerrilla group fighting
               for Karen autonomy in Burma since 1948. 

               The camps periodically have been attacked and
               burned down by a splinter group of Karen under the
               control of the Burmese Army. Many refugees have
               said Burmese soldiers participated in the attacks. 

               Refugees living in camps in the northern section of
               the Thai-Burma border generally have been treated
               with compassion by the Thai army and local

               There have been a number of clashes, however, in
               camps along the southern section of the border
               where Thai businessmen are developing highways
               and other investment projects linking the two

               Those camps, along with the Thay Pu Law Sue
               camp, are under the control of Thailand's Ninth Army
               Division. During the administration of former Prime
               Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the army rounded
               up refugees, including women and children, and sent
               them back to Burma into the path of a Burmese
               army offensive in February. 

               Chavalit and his generals denied any refugees were
               sent back, but army officers, district officials, local
               villagers and the refugees all said the forced
               repatriations took place. 

               Bonifacio said her investigators had met with local
               officials in Umphang and she was scheduled to
               meet with Thai foreign ministry officials today. 

               She said she hoped the new administration of Prime
               Minister Chuan Leekpai would take a more
               favorable attitude toward the refugees, but
               acknowledged it was too soon to tell what its policy
               would be.