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2,000 flee homes as former DKBA forces clash in Karen State

Local villagers displaced by recent fighting between DKBA and BGF forces in Karen State take shelter in Myainggyingu, some 70 km north of the state capital Hpa-an. (Photo: DVB)

Recent clashes between renegade troops of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and pro-government Karen units of the Border Guard Force (BGF) have compelled more than 2,000 local villagers to flee their homes in eastern Burma.

The two militias, both former brigades of the DKBA, have engaged in hostilities 2 September. No casualties have been reported.

The renegades are under command of Saw Kyaw Thet, Saw Tine Shwe and Saw San Aung. At the end of August, the trio warned of an “all-out war” against the local BGF; tensions had reportedly been escalating since the renegades broke from the DKBA at the beginning of the year.

Speaker of the Karen State parliament, Saw Chit Khin, an MP representing the ruling National League for Democracy in Hlaingbwe Township, said that the armed clashes have forced villagers from Hlaingbwe and Maethawaw to seek shelter and safety in Myainggyingu, some 70 kilometres north of state capital Hpa-an.

“There are 2,212 individuals from 16 Karen villages … who fled their homes to find safety in Myainggyingu,” said Saw Chit Khin.

Some displaced locals are believed to have fled to Hpa-an, but DVB could not confirm numbers at the time of press.

Two weeks ago, renegade commander Maj. Na Ma Kyar was hacked to death by loggers he had detained in Kawkareik Township. His group claimed the logging operation was in its territory but under the control of the local BGF.