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11,000 Fled Myanmar Crackdown, Reports Say

April 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — Myanmar troops have uprooted more than 11,000 ethnic minority civilians in their biggest offensive in almost a decade, a campaign punctuated by torture and killings, according to reports from inside the country and Thailand.

Scores of villages have been abandoned and their inhabitants forced to flee as troops in eastern Myanmar attempt to suppress a decades-old insurgency among the Karen people, say reports from the Free Burma Rangers, a group of Westerners and ethnic minority volunteers who aid displaced people in the country, also known as Burma.

The onslaught began in November but has recently intensified, the group said. About 1,500 people have fled across the border to Thailand, joining about 140,000 already in refugee camps.

The military-run government has denied any human rights violations against ethnic minority groups, including the Karen, which it blames for a spate of recent bombings.

"There is no offensive against the Karen National Union, but security measures have been taken and cleaning-up operations are being conducted," Information Minister Brig. Gen. Kyaw Hsan said in Yangon this month.

But analysts say the crackdown is the largest since 1997.

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