Burma's military rulers have reportedly launched an offensive against separatist rebels, attacking villages and forcing thousands to flee.
The Free Burma Rangers, a rights group that works inside the impoverished country, says hundreds of government troops attacked at least six Karen ethnic villages and townships in recent weeks.
The rights group said the troops terrorized villagers and destroyed scores of homes in an attempt to quash a five-decade insurgency. The Karen, one of Burma's major ethnic groups, have been fighting for independence for more than 50 years.
The rebels, who live in the east, began peace talks with the ruling junta in 2003 and reached a provisional truce, but sporadic fighting continues.
Information for this report is provided by AP.