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Indian rebels forcing Burmese villagers to flee

Apr 27, 2009 (DVB), Indian separatist rebels who have taken up base in Burma's Chin state are now forcibly moving into locals' houses and causing them to flee their village, say a Chin human rights group.

The rebel group, from India's Manipur region which borders western Burma, entered Hai Kyin village in Tonzang township, northern Chin state, on 13 April and stationed themselves in locals' houses, said Min Htan Nga, coordinator of Zomi Human Rights Foundation.

The villagers, who feared they might get caught between the rebels and the Indian army's long range weapon attacks from across the border, had fled the village and were hiding nearby.

"The rebels just came into the village and started staying in villagers' houses without even asking for their permission," said Min Htan Nga.

"They were keeping their weapons and ammunition in the houses as well so people started fleeing the village fearing they would be caught in the crossfire with the Indian army."

This is the second time Hai Kyin villagers have fled their homes. In February this year, a clash broke out near the village between the Manipur rebels and Burmese opposition group, the Zomi Revolutionary Army.

Continued ignorance from the Burmese military regarding the Manipur rebels have led locals in northern Chin state to think the government is assisting them in their fight against the Indian government.

According to reports from locals in the area, the Manipur fighters have been seen carrying out joint border patrols with the Burmese army.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min


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