Three dead in violence in Myanmar ethnic area after election

Rebel troops clashed with government soldiers in a town in eastern Myanmar on Monday after rare elections, leaving three civilians dead and causing hundreds to flee across the Thai border, officials said.

Last Updated: Nov 08, 2010, 21:09 PM IST

Yangon: Rebel troops clashed with government
soldiers in a town in eastern Myanmar on Monday after rare
elections, leaving three civilians dead and causing hundreds
to flee across the Thai border, officials said.

Eleven more people were injured when heavy weapons fire
from ethnic rebels hit the town of Myawaddy in Karen State,
said an official in the military-ruled country who did not
want to be named.

There was no information on any troop casualties on
either side.

A Thai military official on the border, who also asked
not to be named, said one rocket propelled grenade landed on
the Thai side in Mae Sot, injuring three men and two women.

Mae Sot district chief Kittisak Tomornsak said about
1,000 people had fled across the border from Myanmar, while
Thailand closed its border checkpoint in the town and
evacuated people from along the river in the area.

Myanmar`s own checkpoint on the other side of the river
has been shut for several months, although many migrants cross
the porous border illegally.

Zipporah Sein, Thailand-based general secretary of the
Karen National Union (KNU), said skirmishes broke out between
up to 300 Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) soldiers and
the government Army.

"We don`t know definitely but I think last night the army
sent over more troops, they negotiated and the DKBA retreated
but this morning they were blocked by army trucks and then it
started," she said.

She said the fighting was contained in the town but added
that if it spilled into surrounding areas, up to 500 DKBA
troops and 900 KNU soldiers could join the battle.

Last week the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an exile
media organisation, reported that six armed groups in
Myanmar`s troubled ethnic minority areas had agreed to help
each other fight back if attacked by government forces.

The clash followed an armed demonstration by the rebels
over yesterday`s election as well as attempts to force ethnic
minority troops to join a border guard force, which would put
them under state control.

The exact circumstances were unclear. Local DKBA
commander Na Kham Mwe told the exile news website Irrawaddy
that government troops opened fire first.

"More and more troops are being sent by the Burmese
government. It seems they don`t want to negotiate," he said,
using Myanmar`s former name.

A resident in Myawaddy said authorities had asked people
to stay in their homes.

"We can hear shooting but we cannot see what is happening
outside," he said.

PTI