Refugees head for border

Refugees head for border

Myanmar strife sees checkpoints flooded

Myanmar people cross the border to take shelter in Phop Phra district, Tak, on Thursday. (Photo: Assawin Pinitwong)
Myanmar people cross the border to take shelter in Phop Phra district, Tak, on Thursday. (Photo: Assawin Pinitwong)

Tak: Local authorities led by governor Somchai Kitcharoenrungroj visited and extended moral support to about 250 Myanmar villagers taking shelter at an evacuation centre in Ban Wao Lay Nua village in Tak's Phop Phra district on Sunday.

It comes after more than seven days of fierce battles along the border. The governor instructed authorities to look after them in line with humanitarian principles and give special attention to children.

Agencies brought food and essential items to the evacuees from Ban Wao Lay Mai in Myawaddy, a border town in Myanmar.

Phetch Namwong, kamnan of tambon Wao Lay in Phop Phra district, said military tensions eased on Sunday after the Karen National Union (KNU) and the People's Defence Force (PDF) civilian resistance groups withdrew their troops from the Ukrihta military base on the Myanmar side of the border, opposite tambon Wao Lay.

Chatchawal Srisuwan, head of Ban Wao Lay Nua village, said the village has suffered fallout from the conflict due to it being situated just one kilometre from the border.

Community leaders are monitoring the situation closely and evacuation drills are held regularly, he said.

He also said the sight of a Myanmar air force Mig-29 fighter jet straying in to Thai airspace over the village last Thursday was a major cause for local concern.

One military source stationed near the border said Thai troops had been deployed along the border to observe the situation in Myanmar and prepare for any impact on the Thai side that the skirmishes may cause.

The source said the Myanmar army troops were better equipped and outnumbered resistance groups.

Heavy bombing from Mig-29 fighter jets had forced the resistance groups to withdraw from the Ukrihta military base, with around 90 junta soldiers killed and many injured while the resistance groups also suffered numerous casualties during the fighting, the source said.

Last Thursday, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a Myanmar Mig-29 was detected intruding into Thai airspace having launched airstrikes on ethnic rebels along the border, according to the RTAF.

The following day, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Myanmar had apologised over Thursday's incident over Phop Phra district of Tak, and downplayed the matter.

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