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U.S. may take Myanmar rebel twins

khtoo twins
Karen twins Johnny and Luther Htoo headed the God's Army and won mystical status from followers  

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Notorious twins who once led a band of insurgents in Myanmar's border jungles are in the final stage of being accepted for resettlement in the United States.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok told Reuters on Monday the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is dispatching a team to interview Johnny and Luther Htoo next week.

"The INS will be sending a team to interview the twins next week," said the spokesman, who declined to be identified.

"But I can't say how long it will take before they are given permission to leave for the United States."

The interview was one of the final stages before being granted permission to resettle, the spokesman added.

The boy soldiers, in their early teens, led the God's Army ethnic Karen guerrilla group for years.

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The boys fought against the Myanmar army with scores of followers who believed they had mystical powers.

The pair and 12 others surrendered to Thai authorities in January, after a crackdown by border patrols who cut off their food supply lines.

The twins became hit international headlines after the release of their photograph showing them toting assault rifles and smoking cigars.

The Htoo brothers as well as their mother, sister and the 12 other former fighters are now living in a Thai border patrol police camp, 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Bangkok.

Meanwhile, the twins told a news conference that their fighting days were over.

Ratchaburi provincial governor Gomate Daengthongdee told Reuters that Thailand's National Security Council and the United Nations' refugees agency had set a schedule for them to leave for a third country at the end of this year.

"According to our policy, we plan to send them to a third country by the end of this year, but the final schedule and destination depend on the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)," Gomate said.

He said it was likely the twins would seek residency in the United States as they had been through several rounds of interviews by U.S. officials.


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• Child soldiers in Myanmar's front line
June 15, 2001

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