Kayah Refugee Family Lose Mother, Livelihood in Junta Artillery Strike

By The Irrawaddy 3 March 2023

A Kayan refugee family whose lives were torn apart when a shell fired by regime troops ripped through their hut on Monday face months of grief, hardship and hospital treatment, according to their relatives.

The junta shell killed a 31-year-old mother and injured four members of her family when it exploded at their makeshift tailor’s shop at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Demoso Township, Kayah State on Monday night.

The explosion also left the victim’s husband, 33, with severe injuries to his head and arms, her sister, 28, with pelvis injuries, and her two-year-old son with a thigh wound. Her youngest sister, 26, was also hit by shrapnel, while the deceased woman’s 63-year-old mother suffered a heart attack after the shelling.

Relatives say the injured family members may need months of hospital treatment for injuries suffered during the attack.

“The man was eating dinner while tailoring along with his wife and sister-in-law. The child and the other two women were in the corner of the hut. The artillery shell landed beside their shop,” a relative told The Irrawaddy.

The man and his sister-in-law face further rounds of surgery. The mother needs treatment for the mental trauma she experienced during the horrific attack.

“There were three people working [in the family] before. Now they can’t do anything and have lost their livelihood because of their injuries,” he said.

Regime soldiers fired six rounds of artillery into the west of Demoso Township on Monday night despite not being engaged with resistance forces, according to Ko Lin Lin, a spokesperson for the Karenni Revolution Union.

“The artillery passed just over our heads,” Ko Lin Lin told The Irrawaddy.

The junta has been indiscriminately shelling civilians and resistance forces in an effort terrorise the township, according to a Demoso resident.

Regime artillery strikes on Monday and Tuesday left a total of four people dead and injured eight, including two children. Junta troops are using their artillery base in the Kayah State capital of Loikaw to target nearby civilian communities in Demoso and Phaekhon over the border in Shan State.

“Shells from heavy artillery are landing in one place after another. We are always afraid of the danger from their heavy weapons,” a refugee from Moebye Town in southern Shan State told The Irrawaddy.

The regime has killed a total of 130 refugees in Kayah State over the past two years, according to the Progressive Karenni People Force.