Thai village chief shot by DKBA troops

Jan 21, 2010 (DVB), A Thai village chief has been seriously injured after being shot twice by a pro-Burmese junta militia, who last week crossed from eastern Burma into Thailand.

Two members of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) carried out the attempted murder on 16 January after crossing the Moei river from eastern Burma's Karen state, the Karen Information Committee (KIC) said.

The Eu Pu Hta village chief, Cha Chai, survived the shooting and is now in hospital, according to his relatives who spoke with the KIC.

"Two DKBA soldiers arrived at Cha Chai's house around 8:45pm and shot him twice. One shot hit him on the thigh and the other one in his bladder. We didn't see the attackers' faces," said the relative.

"We sent him to Pho Pa hospital immediately but doctors there couldn't handle the wounds so we transferred him to Mae Sot hospital. His condition is serious and life threatening."

The DKBA, which is closely allied to the ruling junta in Burma, often makes incursions into Thai territory, although recriminations from the Thai government are rare.

It is widely believed that DKBA troops were responsible for the assassination in 2008 of former Karen National Union (KNU) leader Pado Mahn Sha, who was shot dead in Thailand's border town of Mae Sot.

According to the KIC, who spoke with the Eu Pu Hta headman, Teeda, the incident may have stemmed from a dispute over the payment of a tractor. The DKBA had bought the tractor under Cha Chai's name but failed to pay the instalments, and Cha Chai subsequently took to tractor.

Teeda also said that the village chief had been cooperating with troops from the anti-government Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), which has been fighting the DKBA in Karen state for fifteen years.

The DKBA is made up of former KNLA troops who defected in 1995, citing religious discrimination by the majority Christian KNLA against Buddhists.

Despite engaging in heavy fighting in June last year, the two groups held talks in October following calls from an influential Karen monk to negotiate a peace deal, although there appears to have been little subsequent action.

The KIC also said that two Karen villagers were last week killed by Burmese troops, who then razed their Kyaukkyi township village.

The medical aid group Free Burma Rangers, who operate in Karen state, confirmed the incident.

Reporting by DVB

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