Burmese military scorches border island

Mar 19, 2008 (DVB), Burmese military troops set fire to an island in the Thaung Yin river between Burma and Thailand yesterday, clearing huts built by illegal settlers, locals said.

The mid-river island is located between the Burmese town of Myawaddy in Karen state and Thailand’s Mae Sot district.

A Myawaddy resident who watched the scorching of the island said Burmese army soldiers, accompanied by the township police, burnt down huts built by illegal settlers on the island at around 7am yesterday.

"The Burmese military personnel and the police went on to the island at around 7am and cleared it by burning down the huts," said the Myawaddy resident.

"They did not give any advance warning of the clearing to the settlers on the island."

The small island, which occasionally provokes argument between Thai and Burmese authorities because of questions over its ownership, is inhabited for much of the year by smugglers of drugs and other illegal goods.

Sources from Mae Sot said that Thai officials went to the island after it was cleared yesterday to check on its status, but that the Burmese military's actions did not seem to have caused any tension between the authorities of the two countries.

Reporting by Maung Too

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