Houses belonging to members of a Karen splinter group involved in a clash with Burmese troops last week have been searched and their military belongings confiscated.
Local authorities were accompanied by troops when they carried out raids on a number of houses in Myawaddy, eastern Burma, which emptied last week when up to 20,000 residents fled to Thailand as fighting erupted.
“They confiscated all military items such as uniform and equipment,” a Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) solider told DVB. “They started searching houses [Saturday] and [continued yesterday]. We assume they are looking for explosives and other hidden materials as a precaution.”
Several days of heavy fighting followed an incursion into Myawaddy by DKBA troops on 7 November, the day of Burma’s elections. The renegade DKBA commander, Na Kham Mwe, said the move was in response to reports that Burmese soldiers had threatened voters at gunpoint.
Authorities also searched the house of Nay Soe Mya, the youngest son of the late Karen National Union (KNU) leader, General Saw Bo Mya. The DKBA split from the KNU in 1994 and allied itself to the Burmese junta, before a faction defected following the DKBA’s decision to transform into a border army and come under the control of Naypyidaw.
The soldier said that there had been many military personnel, local officials and police officials involved in the raid on the house.
A number of Myawaddy residents said they had been digging bomb shelters in preparation for more fighting. Most of the refugees that fled across the border have since returned and schools were due to reopen today, but stability remains fragile.
Fighting also broke out in Payathonzu, across the border from Thailand’s Sangkhla Buri. The Burmese army is currently reinforcing its troops and deploying checkpoints along the road into Payathonzu.
A monk from the Karen Youth Monks Union said the low-income day labourers remained in hiding in monasteries, fearing fresh violence, and therefore were unable to earn a living, forcing the group to provide food donations.
Meanwhile, Na Kham Mwe yesterday hailed the release of Burmese opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi on 13 November. He said in a statement that he “rejoiced” at the news and believed she would “continue to work for the ethnic people and organisations in the Union”.