Only Myanmar Regime Undercover Soldiers Murdered, Not Civilians: KNDO

By The Irrawaddy 15 June 2021

Ethnic armed group the Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO) has denied the military regime’s allegation that it slaughtered civilians in Karen State, eastern Myanmar, claiming that the men it killed were undercover soldiers sent to spy by the junta.

On May 31, the KNDO, an armed group under the Karen National Union (KNU), detained 47 people including women and children engaged in roadworks near the town of Waw Lay in Myawaddy Township close to the border with Thailand. Twenty five men aged between 18 and 52 were later found dead.

The list of women and children detained and released by the KNDO.

The military regime said on Sunday that the 25 victims were civilians working on the construction of a bridge linking Ka Ne Lay and Maw Khee villages in Waw Lay. The Myanmar military’s South Eastern Command has reportedly sent a complaint to the KNU headquarters asking the KNU to explain the killings.

Saw Wah Nay Nu, the spokesperson for the KNDO chief of staff Major General Nerdah Bo Mya, said that the victims were not civilians, but military personnel from infantry and engineering units who the junta had sent to collect intelligence about the armed group.

“We shot some of them dead. But some were killed in shelling by the military. Two of our troops were even injured by the shelling. They were not road workers. They had military uniforms and badges. They had military equipment. We seized it all,” he said.

“They sent drones every night for a month. We said we could not accept that. But they continued and we have had to do what we are supposed to do as we are fighting a war. It was because they didn’t listen to us. They always want to carry out area clearance operations. In fact, they have killed a lot of people. They (the victims) belonged to the engineering unit,” added the KNDO spokesman.

A case on the killings has been opened with the Myawaddy police by the regime, according to sources close to the KNU headquarters.

The military regime has said that it will annihilate the ethnic armed group, claiming that the KNDO is a terrorist organization.

There were heavy clashes between the KNDO and junta troops in Waw Lay from May 31 to the first week of June and military tensions remain high in the town.

During the fighting on May 31, the KNDO took 47 people—31 men, six women and 10 children—from the bridge construction site. It released six men and all the women and children between June 1 and June 9.

The military regime said that while searching for the remaining 25 men they found them buried in two separate graves around a mile from the construction site. It reported finding a charred body and the grave of six men on June 11, killed with their hands tied behind their backs. It retrieved 18 more bodies the following day.

The list of men detained by the KNDO.

On May 31, near Phlu village in Myawaddy Township, the military and Border Guard Force (BGF) also clashed with a combined force of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army splinter group, Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, a BGF splinter group and a people’s defense force made up of civilian resistance fighters.

Over 200 locals from Waw Lay and Phlu were forced to flee to Thailand.

The KNU signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015. Despite that pact, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), another armed wing of the KNU, and the military have engaged in fighting in Papun District since 2018 after the latter constructed roads and deployed troops in the area.

Since March, the KNLA has also attacked military outposts in Papun District in response to the junta’s coup. More than a thousand civilians in Papun were forced to flee from their homes after the regime retaliated with airstrikes.

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