Border security stepped up as Myanmar fighting rages
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Border security stepped up as Myanmar fighting rages

Rebels use drones to target stranded regime soldiers, bullet from Myanmar strikes Thai home

A Thai soldier greets a child from conflict-ridden Myanmar seeking shelter in Mae Sot district of Tak province on Saturday. About 1,700 civilians were said to have crossed the border as of Saturday evening. (Photo: Royal Thai Army)
A Thai soldier greets a child from conflict-ridden Myanmar seeking shelter in Mae Sot district of Tak province on Saturday. About 1,700 civilians were said to have crossed the border as of Saturday evening. (Photo: Royal Thai Army)

The Thai military and authorities are intensifying efforts to protect civilians along the Thai-Myanmar border, aiming to help Myanmar nationals seeking humanitarian aid while also preventing the spillover of violence into Thailand.

Fighting raged near Myawaddy on the border across from Mae Sot in Tak province on Saturday, forcing nearly 1,700 civilians to flee as rebels pressed to flush out junta troops holed up for days at the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.

The Thai broadcaster NBT, in a post on the social media platform X, said resistance forces used 40mm machine guns and dropped 20 bombs from drones to target an estimated 200 junta soldiers who had retreated from a coordinated rebel assault on army posts since April 5.

Thai military forces responsible for border security are working closely with police and narcotics officers to enhance control over crossings between Mae Sot and Myanmar, particularly in light of the escalating conflict.

The intensified fighting has prompted civilians in Myanmar to seek refuge by crossing into Tak, underscoring the need for stricter border control and processing of border-crossers, authorities said.

The Ministry of Public Health said 1,686 people had crossed the border to seek temporary refuge in Mae Sot on Saturday, with one person injured by shrapnel. It said nearly half of the arrivals were children and elderly people.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, in a post on X on Saturday evening, said he would travel to Mae Sot on Tuesday to get a first-hand look at the situation.

Skirmishes between junta forces and Karen rebels have started to affect Thai citizens, as evidenced by a stray bullet that penetrated the window of a house. While the window sustained damage, no one in the residence was harmed.

A stray bullet struck a home in Tak province near the Myanmar border on Saturday.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher on Thailand with Human Rights Watch Asia, posted a message on X on Saturday saying that more than 1,600 people from Myawaddy had crossed into Thailand after the Myanmar military used MiG-29 jet fighters and helicopter gunships to attack Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) troops earlier.

The activist also shared posts from Prime Minister Srettha and Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukura, saying the government is closely monitoring the situation in Myanmar.

They said the government would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need along the border.

“I do not desire to see any such clashes have any impact on the territorial integrity of Thailand and we are ready to protect our borders and the safety of our people,” Mr Srettha added in a post on X.

KNLA troops and resistance fighters seized Myawaddy on April 11, dealing a big blow to a well-equipped military that is struggling to govern and is now facing a critical test of its battlefield credibility.

The capture of Myawaddy and surrounding army outposts is a significant setback for a junta that has been squeezed by Western sanctions, with the town a key tax revenue source and conduit for more than 35 billion baht worth of annual border trade.

Karen National Union (KNU) spokesperson Padoh Saw Taw Nee confirmed that the group was fighting against the junta in Myawaddy, but did not give any further details.

Early Saturday morning, a Thai army unit stationed on the border said clashes were ongoing with a force targeting the junta soldiers under the bridge.

“Currently in the middle of fighting, no losses known,” the Rajamnu Special Task Force posted on Facebook.

Pittayakorn Petcharat, the Mae Sot police chief, said the fighting was “intensifying”.

“Around 2,000” people had crossed the border, AFP quoted him as saying, with local authorities searching them for weapons.

“We have given them food and moved them to the safer place,” he added.

A Thai soldier takes cover near the 2nd Thailand-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Tak during fighting on the Myanmar side of the border between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and regime troops on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)

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