Karen army blocks borders after Chalerm's taunts

national May 04, 2012 00:00

By THE NATION

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The Foreign Ministry is negotiating with Myanmar's Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) after the group closed 12 border checkpoints from Tak to Kanchanaburi in retaliation of the government including a Karen leader's name on the list of drug offenders



 that at the local level, the closure has affected the operation of two Thai-owned ore-mining companies after the transport of their products was stopped.

Though small-sized vendors in Tak’s Mae Sot area continued trading, Tak customs chief Phongthep Buasap said.

According to military intelligence sources, DKBA commander Lt-General Na Kha Muay has mobilised Karen troops and told them to be ready for combat along the border, reportedly to prepare for a “military retaliation” against Thailand for blacklisting him. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung had earlier made provocative remarks against the Karen general.

The closure of the border has prompted the taskforce under the 4th Infantry Regiment based in Mae Sot to go on alert in both Mae Sot and Phop Phra districts.

DKBA has said that it would not guarantee the safety of Thai nationals crossing the border, Chaiyuth Senitantikul, an adviser to Tak’s Industrial Council, said, adding that the issue should not escalate any further or it would adversely affect local people.

Banphot Kokiatcharoen, chief of the Tak Chamber of Commerce, is calling on the government to set up a standard procedure in case such conflicts occur in the future, adding that this sort of problem had complicated matters further. He did not elaborate.

Tak Governor Suriya Prasartbundit, meanwhile, called on Thai nationals to exercise extra caution when visiting Myanmar.

Na Kha Muay is demanding that his name be withdrawn from the blacklist, and was especially enraged after Chalerm issued a taunting statement urging him to surrender.