Food reportedly bought from Thailand and bound for Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) troops in Karen State was taken away on Tuesday at midnight, after ethnic armed organization the Karen National Union (KNU) blocked its delivery.
Many in Myanmar believe that the food was sold by the Thai army to the Tatmadaw, prompting people to condemn the Thai military on social media after the food arrived on the banks of the Salween River on Saturday.
Following fresh clashes with the Tatmadaw in Karen State’s Papun District, the KNU’s Brigade 5 blocked transportation routes to Papun, preventing the military regime from delivering food to its troops based there.
On Saturday, 700 sacks of rice, oil and canned meat which are said to have been bought from Thailand, were unloaded on the Thai side of the Salween River opposite Karen State.
But the food was stranded there as the KNU refused to allow the food to be delivered to the Tatmadaw soldiers in Papun.
“Around five people came in four vehicles on Tuesday around midnight and took the supplies. Perhaps it is because the KNU Brigade 5 has said they would not take responsibility for what happens if the food is delivered across the river to Karen State,” said local resident U Saw Lu, who witnessed the scene.
There are a number of Myanmar military outposts along the Salween River, which marks the Myanmar-Thai border in Karen State. Local residents suggested that the food would be delivered to the Tatmadaw at another place along the frontier.
The KNU said it blocked the food delivery because 500 local Karen people are currently affected by ongoing armed conflicts in Papun District, and also because it does not support the military regime and cannot accept the junta killing innocent people across the country.
KNU Brigade 5 issued a warning in both the Burmese and Thai languages saying that it would not tolerate anyone who carries food for the military regime’s soldiers.
On Saturday, according to Reuters, Maj Gen Amnat Srimak, commander of the Naresuan Task Force of the Thai Army, said in a statement, “The Thai army is not supplying the Myanmar army and there has been no contact from the Myanmar army requesting help or demanding any assistance from us because they have their own honour.”
“If there is anything, I think it is just regular commerce at normal border crossings,” he said. “We are not blocking this if the commerce is not against the law and follows customs procedures.”
Locals who went to see the food supplies on Tuesday at noon were fired on by a nearby Tatmadaw outpost. Six warning shots were fired, according to local residents. The food was then collected late at night.
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