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Ethnic bloc calls for investigation into killing of Karenni soldiers

Karenni National Progressive Party members (Photo: Facebook/ KNPP)

The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) today demanded an investigation into a case involving the killing of four soldiers from the Karenni National Progressive Party.

In a statement, the ethnic bloc UNFC accused Burmese government forces of killing the Karenni troops during a 19 December raid on a KNPP outpost in Loikaw district. A civilian was also killed in the raid, it said.

The UNFC noted in its statement that the incident may have a negative bearing on the peace process.

“The [Burmese military] 54th Light Infantry Battalion raided a KNPP outpost on the night of 19 December 2017,” the statement read. “The KNPP did not launch a counter-offensive against the Tatmadaw [government forces] but opted instead for a meeting to discuss the situation. Nonetheless, the Tatmadaw overran the camp and brutally slayed those KNPP soldiers.

“After a KNPP delegation contacted the Tatmadaw Regional Operations Command, the military informed the Karenni army that the dead soldiers had already been cremated. The army handed over the ashes of the soldiers to the KNPP on 21 December 2017.”

An Irrawaddy report on 22 December suggested that the four KNPP soldiers had been “executed” while in Tatmadaw custody.

UNFC central executive committee member Tun Zaw said, “It is necessary that an investigation [into the soldiers’ deaths] is carried out in a transparent manner.”

KNPP is one of five members of the UNFC, and has signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement with the government.