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Dying American reporter taped plea for help

By
PAUL WEDEL

BANGKOK, Thailand -- An American working for Soldier of Fortune magazine tape-recorded a plea for help before he died of wounds suffered while covering fighting between ethnic Karen rebels and Burmese troops, a Karen officer said Thursday.

The officer said his men struggled to save journalist Lance Eugene Motley, 32, of Sacramento, Calif., but were unable to stop massive bleeding.

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'I am a journalist for Soldier of Fortune magazine. I was wounded by a mortar shell,' Motley said in a statement he tape-recorded soon after being wounded inside Burma on Tuesday. 'I need help. I need American help.

'Please do not cut off my leg or arms. Do the best you can,' he said on the tape, which was played for United Press International by the Karen officer.

Motley, a West Point graduate and retired Army captain, was breathing heavily and in obvious pain but spoke clearly and slowly.

The Karen officer said his men gave Motley immediate medical attention.

'We knew his condition was not good. We tried to get blood. We tried to stop the bleeding but the big veins and artery were cut,' he said.

The Karen officer said Motley was brought to a Thai hospital in Mae Sot, 250 miles northwest of Bangkok about an hour after he was wounded but doctors were unable to save him.

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Motley died Wednesday morning in the hospital from massive wounds to the lower body, chest and face, police said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Neil Klopfenstein confirmed a U.S. citizen was killed at the border but declined to give details.

The Karen officer said he warned Motley of the risks of going into a Karen camp under siege by the Burmese army.

'I told him it was not very safe but he wanted to go. He was intelligent. He understood the danger,' the officer said.

Before leaving for the Burmese border, Motley told UPI he intended to enter Burma to report on the fighting there. He said he was working for the Colorado-based magazine Soldier of Fortune, which gives extensive coverage of armed conflicts around the world.

The Karen officer said one of Motley's last requests was that his parents be notified in the United States.

The officer said a U.S. embassy official assured him this had been done.

He said the Burmese were shelling the camp at Kawmoora, just across the Moei River from Thailand, about every 15 minutes when Motley was hit.

'He was taking pictures when it happened. No one else was close to him,' he said.

He said another Western journalist, believed to be French, was in the camp at the time but was not wounded.

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The officer said an estimated 6,000 Burmese troops were involved in the siege of Kawmoora and some were within 300 yards of the camp.

The Burmese have been attacking Karen camps along the border for more than three weeks in an attempt to wipe out the 40-year-old Karen insurgency.

Along with 10 other ethnic groups, the Karens have been battling the Burmese central government to win what they feel is a necessary degree of local autonomy and protection for their culture and language.

The fighting has stepped up since the Burmese military seized direct power last September to crush massive pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the country.

The officer said his men struggled to save journalist Lance Eugene Motley, 32, of Massachusetts but were unable to stop massive bleeding.

'I am a journalist for Soldier of Fortune magazine. I was wounded by a mortar shell,' Motley said in a statement he tape-recorded soon after being wounded inside Burma on Tuesday. 'I need help. I need American help.

'Please do not cut off my leg or arms. Do the best you can,' he said on the tape, which was played for United Press International by the Karen officer.

Motley, whose hometown was not known, was breathing heavily and in obvious pain but spoke clearly and slowly.

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The Karen officer said his men gave Motley immediate medical attention.

'We knew his condition was not good. We tried to get blood. We tried to stop the bleeding but the big veins and artery were cut,' he said.

The Karen officer said Motley was brought to a Thai hospital in Mae Sot, 250 miles northwest of Bangkok about an hour after he was wounded but doctors were unable to save him.

Motley died Wednesday morning in the hospital from massive wounds to the lower body, chest and face, police said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Neil Klopfenstein confirmed a U.S. citizen was killed at the border but declined to give details.

The Karen officer said he warned Motley of the risks of going into a Karen camp under siege by the Burmese army.

'I told him it was not very safe but he wanted to go. He was intelligent. He understood the danger,' the officer said.

Before leaving for the Burmese border, Motley told UPI he intended to enter Burma to report on the fighting there. He said he was working for the Colorado-based magazine Soldier of Fortune, which gives extensive coverage of armed conflicts around the world.

The Karen officer said one of Motley's last requests was that his parents be notified in the United States.

Advertisement

The officer said a U.S. embassy official assured him this had been done.

He said the Burmese were shelling the camp at Kawmoora, just across the Moei River from Thailand, about every 15 minutes when Motley was hit.

'He was taking pictures when it happened. No one else was close to him,' he said.

He said another Western journalist, believed to be French, was in the camp at the time but was not wounded.

The officer said an estimated 6,000 Burmese troops were involved in the siege of Kawmoora and some were within 300 yards of the camp.

The Burmese have been attacking Karen camps along the border for more than three weeks in an attempt to wipe out the 40-year-old Karen insurgency.

Along with 10 other ethnic groups, the Karens have been battling the Burmese central government to win what they feel is a necessary degree of local autonomy and protection for their culture and language.

The fighting has stepped up since the Burmese military seized direct power last September to crush massive pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the country.

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