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Karen Rebels Accuse Burma of Bombing Civilians; Appeal for Help

March 25, 1992

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Ethnic rebels have called on the United Nations to save them from Burmese troops, who they say are bombing civilian villages in their largest offensive in 43 years of civil war.

The Karen National Union accused the government Tuesday of using Chinese- and Yugoslav-made jets to strafe, shoot rockets and drop phosphorus and anti- personnel bombs on civilian villages around their headquarters.

Em Marta, the spokesman, said that as of Tuesday the Burmese had still failed to accurately shell or bomb the group’s headquarters at Manerplaw, 125 miles northeast of Rangoon on the Thai border.

The Karen evacuated civilians from the headquarters March 15, one day after Burmese troops seized control of their first line of defense, Sleeping Dog Mountain, 7 1/2 miles west of Manerplaw, Marta said.

Marta estimated 60,000 of the 7 million Karen in Burma are in the Manerplaw area. He said about 100 people have died and 300 have been wounded since the start of the year.

The Karen are among a dozen ethnic groups in Burma that have been battling the central government for decades for greater autonomy.

About 180,000 Burmese Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape army repression.

Late last year, the military junta in Rangoon launched is largest offensive to date against the Karen along the Thai border.

Burmese troops are destroying the Karen National Union’s villages, crops and food supplies, and raping, killing and enslaving villagers, the group said in a letter written Sunday to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, secretary-general of the United Nations.

Reporters interviewing porters and villagers who have fled into Thailand recently have been told similar stories.

Update hourly