Thousands flee to Thailand as clashes resume
2,500 Myanmar nationals seek refuge in Tak province
published : 17 Dec 2021 at 15:36
writer: Assawin Pinitwong and Reuters
TAK: More Myanmar villagers have fled to Thailand after clashes between Myanmar troops and an ethnic Karen rebel group continued Friday.
The Thai-Myanmar border command centre in Tak province on Friday said that the fighting between junta troops and a Karen National Union (KNU) force resumed at 7.30am in Tod Talae village of Myawaddy province, 500m from Don Thai village in tambon Mae Tao of Mae Sot district.
A border source said the situation remained tense in Mae Sot and Myanmar, a few kilometres from the border. Three companies of Myanmar troops were reinforced to the area.
On Thursday night, the two sides exchanged gunfire involving 80mm and 60mm mortars and RPG launchers, driving hundreds of Myanmar villagers to flee.
According to the border command centre, 2,500 Myanmar villagers fled to Thailand. They regrouped at the Kamnan Pan cowshed in Don Chai village, tambon Mae Tao.
Soldiers and local officials later moved them to another shelter further from the border at Mae Tao Klang School in the same tambon for safety and Covid-19 screening. Humanitarian aid was provided by Thai villagers.
A source said that 2,476 Myanmar nationals, including 762 children, were at the temporary shelter as of Friday morning and that injuries and deaths were reported by both sides.
Myanmar was plunged into turmoil when the military ousted a civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, triggering protests in cities and sporadic clashes in the countryside between anti-junta militia and the army.
There has also been intensified fighting at times between the army and insurgent groups in Myanmar's border areas like the KNU, which is Myanmar's oldest rebel force and has been seeking self-determination in a region of about 1.6 million people.
The KNU said in a post on social media that during fighting on Wednesday four Myanmar soldiers were killed and four wounded.
A report by Public Voice Television, which is backed by Myanmar's ousted shadow government, posted photographs it said showed seized weapons and eight captured members of the Myanmar security forces. It said 18 Myanmar government soldiers had been killed.