Note: This update is as of 1200hrs, 11 October, 2003. It follows the FBR relief team report of the offensive and IDP situation in this area, dated 2 October, 2003.
Burma Army Offensive, Code Named, “Power Over the Land”
12 Burma Army Battalions and three DKBA battalions are now attacking the KNLA 7th Brigade Headquarters on the Moei River in Paan District, Karen State Burma. The 12 Burma Army battalions are supported by 3 DKBA battalions and are using 120mm, 81mm and 60mm mortars as supporting fires in this offensive. There were initially 500 IDPs in this area. 153 have fled into Thailand, 200 are in hiding near the fighting area and about 150 have been forced by the DKBA to move into DKBA controlled areas.
Relief teams are now in the area but relief is limited due to the large concentrations of Burma Army forces and heavy fighting in this area. It has been reported that the Burma Army objective of this offensive is to destroy the KNLA 7th Brigade HQ, establish control over the Mae Ple Do valley and Eastern Dawna range vicinity Mae La, Karen State, and to open up roads in the area to cut off all support for the KNLA and to exploit teak reserves in the area. The Mae PLe Do valley splits the eastern Dawna range northwest of Myawaddy, Paan district, Karen State, (from Mae La refugee camp Thailand, this area is due west).
LIB701, LIB703, LIB708,IB 97 and 1 battalion of DKBA are attacking from the south west via the Mae Ple Do valley. LIB704,LIB705, IB339 and 1 DKBA battalion are attacking from the north vicinity Mae La, Karen State. LIB 702, .LIB706, LIB707, LIB709 and 1 DKBA special battalion under Mau Chit Thu are attacking from the south along the Moei river vicinity Lay Gua. LIB708 is part of this offensive, but its location is unknown. The Burma Army and DKBA has suffered over 150 casualties and the KNLA has 10 casualties. The Burma Army has over 300 prisoners that it is using as porters for is offensive. Among these are 40 prisoners from MooBin prison near Rangoon, 40 from Henszada prison in the delta and 40 from a prison in Thaton. The remaining prisoners are from other prisons in Burma.
The summary from the earlier report follows: (For complete report, see Emergency Relief Mission, Paan District, Karen State, 26 Sept-2 Oct, 2003).
Situation Summary from Earlier Report (now a total of 14 Battalions, BA and DKBA):
Currently the SPDC and the DKBA are carrying out a military operation code-named “Power Over the Land” in order to occupy and control this area and to destroy the No 7 Brigade Headquarters. The operation began in the last week of July and continues to the present day. Due to this offensive over 500 people were displaced and more than 40 families fled to Thailand in September. When fleeing they had to abandon their homes, farms, cattle and belongings. Although most of the IDPs were able to flee, one 19 year-old pregnant woman was shot and killed by the SPDC and one man stepped on a landmine.
The Mae Ple Doe area has been split into three sections. This has resulted in problems for the following villages: Toe Thu Khi village, Day Law Phya Village, Mae Ple Wah Khi village, Thay Wah Bu Village, Wah Klu Bu village, Bu Way village, Htee Wah Kaley Village and Pan Klu village. Some have been able to escape to Thailand, some are living in the jungle, and others are being used by the SPDC and the DKBA to carry out forced labor and to porter for the troops. Transportation routes to the east have been blocked by landmines, which were laid by the SPDC and the DKBA.
The SPDC and the DKBA are fighting to gain control of the mountainous region to the west of Moei river. The are conducting a three pronged attack, with troops advancing from the north, south and west. There are nine SPDC and three DKBA Battalions involved in this operation. IB 339, LIB 705, and 1 Battalion from DKBA 999 attacking from the north vicinity Htee Nu Hta (across from Mae La refugee camp). LIB 702, LIB 706, and 1 Battalion of DKBA 999 attacking from the south vicinity Mae Plae Do. IB 97, LIB 709, and the special battalion of DKBA 999 attacking from the west vicinity Lay Gau (across from Mae Ramat). Three more battalions , LIB 703, LIB 708, and LIB 709 were sent in to reinforce this offensive on 4 October 2003. They are using heavy artillery including 120mm, 81mm and 60mm 75 launchers, machine guns and landmines. Homes, farms and animals owned by civilians in the area are being destroyed.