Military forces have killed 322 civilians in Kayah (Karenni) State in the 19 months since the coup, according to the Progressive Karenni People’s Force (PKPF).
Among the dead, 261 were killed after being arrested by junta troops, while 61 died while fleeing their homes, the PKPF said in a statement released Thursday. That represents an increase of six deaths in custody and 23 people killed while trying to escape the fighting since the PKPF’s last monthly report.
The PKPF also said junta forces arrested 161 people without cause in the past 19 months.
The military sent more than 400 soldiers, along with tanks and drones, to Demoso township in Kayah State last month, provoking speculation that a major offensive would soon get underway.
The PKPF said 454 battles broke out in the 19 months since the coup, and junta forces carried out 158 airstrikes.
It said 151 members of People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) and 1,499 junta troops were killed in the fighting.
Over the same period the group said 1,180 homes and 25 religious buildings were destroyed by the military.
RFA has not been able to independently verify the figures.
State Administration Council spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun has previously said all the deaths reported by the PKPF were of PDF members, not civilians.
Those who managed to escape the fighting and find shelter at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps are also suffering. Aid workers say deaths are increasing among the very young and very old due to shortages of food and medicine.
Civil societies say as many as 210,000 people have become IDPs after fleeing Loikaw, Demoso, Hpruso and Shadaw townships in Kayah State and Pekon and Moebye townships in the southern part of Shan State since the coup on Feb. 1, 2021.
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