The grisly remains of six Karen ceasefire troops who were captured by the Burmese army last week have been found close to the Thai border.
The discovery was made at 9am today close to Hpalu village in Karen state, once home to an outpost belonging to the KNU/KNLA Peace Council ceasefire group which came under attack on 30 November.
“They were found in a bush at the end of a maize plantation,” said Dr Timothy Laklem, head of foreign relations in the Peace Council. “They were not shot dead; they were brutally hacked to death with machetes. Peace Council badges remain with them.”
Burmese army officials had reportedly told the group that the six had been detained and were under interrogation. Suspicions that the men had been killed surfaced when the army failed to return them.
The ceasefire deal struck between the Peace Council and the ruling junta in 2007 now appears to be in jeopardy. Laklem said that the group will discuss “how to take action on the commander who gave the order [to kill the men]”.
The Peace Council is known to be close to a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) which is involved in heavy fighting against the Burmese army around Karen state’s Myawaddy township.
Clashes broke out yesterday morning and continued today after Burmese troops surrounded a DKBA unit near to Hpalu. “It has been going on the whole day and it is not finished yet,” said the DKBA’s Major Kyaw Thet, who is leading the Hpalu attacks. “They suffered losses. Nothing happened on our side.”
He added that four truckloads of around 100 Burmese troops had arrived yesterday and were reinforcing already substantial Burmese army units. The Burmese junta is looking to rout the DKBA and its newly-allied Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), whom it has fought a decades-long conflict against.
Karen refugees continue to move back and forth across the border with Thailand as hopes for calm in Burma’s volatile eastern state appear distant.