KNU accuses Myanmar military of abducting civilians for use as as human shields 

Regime forces used more than 100 civilians as porters and human shields during a march from Hpa-An Township in Kayin (Karen) State to Bilin Township in Mon State earlier this week, according to the Karen National Union (KNU).

Padoh Saw Soe Myint, the KNU’s chair for Thaton District in Mon State, said a column of around 50 soldiers and members of a local Border Guard Force (BGF) abducted the civilians from several villages along the western bank of the Salween River, including Paepinsaik, Wepyan, and Mae Tha Na Khee.

“They forced the civilians to carry their bags,” he said, noting that each soldier had more than one porter. He added that some were also forced to walk ahead of the column, suggesting that they were being used as human minesweepers.

According to a report published by the Karen State-based media outlet KIC, troops on their way to Lay Kay, a village in Bilin Township that has seen major clashes in recent weeks, abducted a group of civilians, including several minors, sheltering at a local monastery in the nearby village of Kyauk Phyar on Sunday.

Last week, Lay Kay was targeted by airstrikes carried out by the Myanmar military. Fresh clashes were also reported near the village on Monday, including one that killed a BGF member.

An additional 50 soldiers and BGF members were sent to Lay Kay as reinforcements after that clash, according to Padoh Saw Soe Myint.

On Tuesday, the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, attacked a convoy of five military trucks near Ingapo, a village about 15km northwest of the town of Kyaikto in Thaton District, which is under the control of KNU Brigade 1.

“It was an ambush. They fired back with heavy artillery. One of the vehicles was destroyed, and there were some casualties, but we don’t know the exact numbers,” said Padoh Saw Soe Myint.

The convoy was travelling from Waw, a town in Bago Region, when it came under attack. Fighting was said to have lasted about 15 minutes.

Junta officials were not available for comment when contacted regarding the KNU’s claims about the military’s use of human shields.

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