Chiang Mai — At least 200 Karen villagers from eastern Burma's Karen State have been forced to flee to the Thai-Burmese border since early this month in apprehension of imminent war between two Karen ethnic rebel forces, sources said.
Sources said, the villagers were forced to flee their villages as a result of fresh fighting between the Karen National Union (KNU) and its break away faction Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).
The villagers were apprehensive that the Karen National Liberation Army, the armed wing of KNU, would launch fresh attacks on DKBA's 907th battalion, which is based in Mawphokee, Mawphokalow and Kanelay villages in Kawkereik Township of Karen state, on the 26th of July.
"The KNU entered their villages in Mawphokee, Mawphokalow and Kanelay. The villagers then feared that there might be cross firing between the two factions and begun fleeing," a member of the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP), who wished not to be named, told Mizzima.
Padoh Saw Hla Ngwe, In-charge of KNU (HQ) Information Department, said when the KNLA soldiers came to know that members of DKBA had come into these villages, they fear that the DKBA is approaching to attack them.
"And some of the KNLA soldiers start talking of launching an advance attack before the DKBA does, and these rumors start spreading into the villages and they became panic and confuse and began to flee in fear of a pending war," he added.
While it is still unclear whether the villagers were able to return to their villages, sources said the DKBA soldiers had threatened them that they would destroy their corns and sesame fields if they do not come back.
These villages are located near the Wawlaykhee region, 45 kilometres South of Mae Sod on the Thai-Burmese border.
Sources said there are about 30 soldiers of DKBA 907th Battalion operating in these villages while the KNLA's 6th Brigade also maintain an active presence in the area.
On June 30, a joint force of DKBA's 907th Battalion and the Burmese Army launched an attack against an outpost of the KNLA's 201st Battalion, capturing the outpost. But the KNU said they were able to recaptured the outpost on the following day.