Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Thousands flee Myanmar to Thailand as army bombs villages

Local sources say the capability of the Burma military has increased with the help of Russia and China and other nations.

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About 3,000 villagers from Myanmar’s southeastern Karen state fled to Thailand on Sunday following air attacks by the army, Reuters is reporting.

Myanmar’s military bombed five areas in Mutraw district near the border, including a displacement camp, according to the Karen Women’s Organization.

The afternoon bombing of an area on the Salween River killed two Karen guerrillas and wounded many more, reports the AP.

“At the moment, villagers are hiding in the jungle as more than 3,000 crossed to Thailand to take refuge,” a statement from the group said.

Thai PBS reported about 3,000 had reached Thailand but Thai authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

David Eubank, founder of the Free Burma Rangers, a relief organisation, said: “We haven’t had air strikes there for over 20 years. These were at night, so the capability of the Burma military has increased with the help of Russia and China and other nations, and that is deadly.”

It was the second day in a row that Myanmar forces had bombed territory controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU).

In an air attack by the military on Saturday, at least three civilians were killed in a village controlled by the KNU. The militia earlier said it had overrun an army post near the border, killing 10 people.

The air assaults are the most significant attack for years in the region. The KNU had signed a ceasefire agreement in 2015 but tensions have surged after the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government on Feb 1.

The KNU and the Restoration Council of Shan State, also based on the Thai border, have condemned the takeover and announced their support for public resistance.

KNU says it has been sheltering hundreds of people who have fled central Myanmar amid mounting violence in recent weeks.

The tension at the frontier comes as the leaders of the resistance to last month’s coup are seeking to have the Karen and other ethnic groups band together and join them as allies, which would add an armed element to their struggle.

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