On October 5th 2015, a KHRG member spoke to the local Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Company #4 deputy commander in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District, who reported that three skirmishes occurred between KNLA soldiers from Company #4 and Tatmadaw soldiers on September 30th 2015, in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District.
The first skirmish took place at Kwee Neh village, Day Wah village tract between a group of KNLA soldiers from Company #4 and Tatmadaw soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #205, who were being led by Deputy Commander Kyaw Thu from Light Infantry Division (LID) #22. According to the deputy commander of KNLA Company #4, the fighting lasted for five to ten minutes, and one Tatmadaw soldier was seriously injured during the skirmish.
The second skirmish occurred at Meh K’Naw Th’Waw Hpya section, in H--- village, Kyaw Pah village tract, between a different group from KNLA Company #4 and an unknown Tatmadaw battalion. According to the deputy commander of KNLA Company #4, immediately after the second skirmish, the Tatmadaw soldiers walked along the road to A--- Section, in H--- village, in search of the KNLA soldiers who attacked them. On their way, they saw an A--- Section villager named U B---, 62 years old, who was looking after his cattle. The Tatmadaw soldiers asked him whether he had seen any KNLA soldiers. As U B--- had not noticed any KNLA soldiers, he replied that he had not seen any. The Tatmadaw soldiers continued patrolling for a while, before they were ambushed again by KNLA soldiers on a road beside a paddy field, near A--- Section, H--- village, Kyaw Pah village tract. The Tatmadaw soldiers then returned to U B--- and hit him once on the ear with the tip of a gun’s barrel and once in the chest. U B---’s ear was bleeding and his chest was bruised. They abused U B--- because they were angry as a result of the KNLA ambush, and accused him of previously lying about the KNLA soldiers’ whereabouts. The Tatmadaw soldiers then arrested him and ordered him to follow them until Yar Poe Hta place. It took U B--- one day to travel there, and then the Tatmadaw soldiers finally let him go free.
Based on the account of the KNLA Company #4 deputy commander, these skirmishes occurred because the Tatmadaw soldiers went over the delimited area without contacting the local KNLA soldiers to inform them of their patrol route. As per the preliminary ceasefire agreement, the Tatmadaw are only allowed to operate and travel up to 50 yards from either side of the road that connects their army camps through KNLA territory, and only within a 150 yard radius around their army camp.
Because of these skirmishes, more than ten households from H--- village fled to the area surrounding Myaing Gyi Ngu Town, Hpa-an District. As of October 5th 2015, these villagers have not yet returned to their village.
In addition, on October 3rd 2015, local villagers reported to KHRG that the Tatmadaw and Border Guard Force (BGF) began actively operating a checkpoint on the road between Hpapun and Ka Ma Maung towns at Oh Taung village, Dwe Lo Township, Hpapun District. Although the checkpoint was in place prior to the recent skirmishes, the soldiers manning it had not been stopping passing vehicles in a systematic way, until recently. The Tatmadaw and BGF soldiers searched passing cars and questioned passengers, asking whether there were any Karen National Union (KNU) members in the cars.
KHRG is in the process of following up on this incident and is attempting to meet with the villagers who fled to the area around Myaing Gyi Ngu Town as a result of the fighting.