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Conflict in Myanmar’s Kayah state traps hundreds in town

A three-week battle has left six people dead and around 600 civilians trapped in Kayah state’s Ywathit township, local aid groups told RFA Tuesday.

Banyar, director of the Karenni Human Rights Organization, told RFA that junta troops detained some villagers in a monastery and wouldn’t let them leave.

“According to the list we received, there are more than 1,200 people in Ywathit town,” said Banyar, who goes by one name. 

“Because of the battle, more than 600 people were able to flee.

“There are still roughly 600 people. No one is allowed to leave the town. Six people were shot dead,” said Banyar, adding that the killings happened on June 27.

He said Ywathit had been under junta control since June 27 and the town’s exit roads had been closed. 

A member of the aid group told RFA that the victims were killed after being turned back at the Thai border.

“A woman was killed. The rest were men from … Hpasaung township and Ywathit township who escaped to the Thai border during the fighting,” said the aid worker, who didn’t want to be named for security reasons.

“However, the Thai side rejected them.  Many of them were detained and killed while they were returning. Some people are also missing.”

Junta media have not mentioned the three-week battle and Kayah state’s  junta spokesperson Aung Win Oo didn’t return RFA’s calls.

The combined Karenni National People’s Liberation Front and Karenni People’s Defense Forces said on June 13 they captured a junta outpost on the Thai border.

However, the junta announced on June 27 that the military base had been taken back.

According to Banyar, there are about 2,000 people seeking shelter near the border and another 9,000 people who have fled to Thailand as a result of the ongoing conflict.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.