The Burma Army and allied Border Guard Force (BGF) recently captured roughly 100 civilians, marching them as a human shield to the military’s Lay Kay camp in Bilin township, located in the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Brigade 1 territory, Padoh Saw Soe Myint, chairperson of KNU Brigade 1’s Thaton District, told DVB.
Around 50 soldiers are said to have marched from Hpa-an to Bilin Township, kidnapping civilians along the way to use as human shields whilst progressing to the camp, believed to be almost entirely surrounded by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and allied forces.
The abducted residents continue to be detained by the army. Most of the hostages are women and elders and are currently being used as porters.
Tensions between the KNU’s other armed wing, the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO), and the military soared after the KNDO gave the Burma Army an ultimatum to withdraw from the Lay Kay and Win Tar Pan camps by April 23.
More than 10,000 locals have recently fled Bilin township due to rising tensions.