KANCHANABURI: Security has been tightened along the border in Sangkhla Buri district as fresh fighting erupted in Myanmar on Saturday morning.
Myanmar troops clashed with unknown forces for more than one hour. People on the Thai side of the border heard the sound of gunfire around 6.30am, with thick smoke and flames billowing over Myanmar’s Payathongzu township, opposite Phra Chedi Sam Ong village Moo 9 in tambon Nong Lu of Sangkhla Buri, said a border source.
It was initially believed the fire-gutted places were the district office and the police station in Payathongzu. They are about 200 metres away from the Three Pagodas Pass in Sangkhla Buri.
Col Thatchadet Arbuarat, deputy commander of the Lat Ya task force, ordered soldiers to be on full alert along the border. People were not allowed to pass through the Nam Kerd security checkpoint in Nong Lu for their own safety.
A source said the clash erupted as rebels from the anti-coup People’s Defence Force (PDF) raided the Payathongzu police station to rescue their colleagues who were earlier arrested and detained by Myanmar soldiers.
After the PDF members were set loose, the rebel forces cut off electricity and set fire on a car parked in front of the station to send a signal to Myanmar troops that they had already taken control of the area.
Later, the rebels whose number was not known retreated to their forest stronghold. The situation has now returned to normal.
No villagers from Myanmar had fled into Thailand, added the source.
By late afternoon Saturday, life and trade were back to normal at the Three Pagodas Pass. But security officers will remain on full alert along the border around the clock, particularly in vulnerable areas, to prevent possible intrusions.
Sutthiporn Siwawetphikul, the Sangkhla Buri district chief, on Saturday assigned his deputy Damrongrat Suphaphan to inspect the border area and monitor the situation.
Soldiers man a checkpoint in Nong Lu subdistrict of Sangkhla Buri late Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)