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June 25, 2009 (DVB), Two Karen refugees in Thailand who fled ongoing fighting in eastern Burma have been shot dead in what appears to be a cross-border attack by Burmese pro-junta militia, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army.
Members of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), who are fighting alongside the Burmese army in its offensive against opposition Karen National Union (KNU), have reportedly been pressuring Karen in Thailand who had fled the offensive.
Three DKBA soldiers entered Thebayhta village in Thailand's Tha Song Yan province on the evening of 23 June and reportedly questioned two Karen men about KNU activities.
A villager in Thebayhta said that when the two replied that they knew nothing, the soldiers shot them.
One of the men, Mah Kloh, 36, died on the spot while the other, Er Khlay, 28, died yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, refugees have been told that homes and villages in Burma's eastern Karen state will be confiscated if they do not return.
According to a Karen youth group helping the refugees, nine families comprising 54 members in Thailand's Mae Thrit village were told that they had to go home, despite many voicing fears that they will be caught in the clashes.
The Karen Women's Organisation (KWO) said on Monday that Thai authorities had similarly been telling Karen to leave the country, although some observers speculated that Thailand was reacting to pressure from the DKBA and Burmese government.
Around 4000 Karen are thought to have fled Burma since the offensive began on 2 June. Thai authorities have reportedly given a verbal promise to help 4000 displaced villagers although no definite plan has been set out, said the KWO secretary.
According to the KWO, Karen villagers face the prospect of being forced to walk in front of troop patrols as minesweeper, while rape of women is a real threat: last week two Karen women, both teenagers, were raped and murdered by the Burmese army.
Reporting by Naw Noreen