Thousands of civilians displaced by Karen State clashes 

Heavy artillery fire by the junta’s forces near the town of Kyondo in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township forced some 5,000 people from their homes this week, according to local sources. 

The Kyondo-based Light Infantry Battalions 545 and 546 shot heavy weapons in the direction of the guerrilla fighters during a battle on Tuesday with the anti-junta forces including the Lion Battalion Commando. The group operates under deposed Karen National Defence Organisation leader Saw Nerdah Mya’s recently formed Kawthoolei Army. 

Located southwest of Kyondo and across the Haungthayaw River, the village of Kanni was heavily shelled in the attack, according to Lion Battalion spokesperson Htet Nay Win. 

“The battle has been growing more serious this afternoon,” he said on Wednesday, noting that four homes in Kanni had burned down and that all of the village’s residents had fled. 

Locals from eight other communities in the surrounding area were also reportedly displaced by the indiscriminate shelling. 

Padoh Mahn Mahn, spokesperson for the Karen National Union (KNU), which administrates the area as part of its Brigade 6 territory, confirmed that the Myanmar military had been targeting civilians in the recent attacks. 

“The firing of heavy weapons and the airstrikes on civilian wards is really worrying for people’s safety, and they are very scared,” he told Myanmar Now. 

A local man from Kyondo helping the displaced persons said that they “don’t know where to run.” 

On Wednesday morning, the Myanmar army also bombed a metals mine 18 miles from the town of Payathonzu in Kyainseikgyi Township, which, like Kawkareik, is located in the KNU’s Brigade 6 territory. 

A local resistance force burned down four junta offices in Payathonzu in an arson attack on Monday night in an effort to disrupt the military’s administrative mechanism.

The group that claimed responsibility for the torching of the military offices, the Payathonzu Guerrilla Force, is allied with the Lion Battalion Commando, which is fighting the military outside of Kyondo. Its members also clashed with multiple junta columns coming from Kyainseikgyi town towards Payathonzu after Monday’s arson attack. 

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