According to the Thai foreign ministry, 2,267 civilians from Myanmar had crossed Thailand early Friday since the last round of conflict began.
Thousands of Myanmar’s Karen villagers are ready to cross into Thailand on Friday if, as expected, fighting between Myanmar’s army and Karen’s fighters intensifies, in addition to those who have already escaped. turbulence that followed after a February 1 coup.
Karen rebels and Myanmar’s army have clashed near the Thai border in the weeks since Myanmar’s generals ousted an elected government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, displacing villagers. and border side.
“People say the Burmese will come and shoot us, so we fled here,” Reu Chu Wah, a Karen villager who went to Thailand with his family from the displacement camp, told the news agency of Ea Thu Hta in Myanmar.
“I had to flee across the river,” Chu Wah said, referring to the Salween River that forms the border of the area.
Karen’s peace support network says thousands of villagers are taking refuge on the Salween side in Myanmar, and will flee to Thailand if fighting escalates.
“In the coming days, more than 8,000 Karen along the Salween River will have to flee to Thailand. We hope the Thai military will help them escape the war, “the group said in a Facebook post.
Karen fighters on Tuesday attacked a Myanmar army unit on the west bank of the Salween in a pre-dawn attack. Karen said 13 soldiers and three of her fighters were killed. The Myanmar military responded with air raids to several areas near the Thai border.
Restricted access to the border
A spokesman for Thailand’s foreign ministry said 2,267 civilians had crossed into Thailand early Friday since the last round of conflict began. Thailand has strengthened its forces and restricted access to the border.
Residents of two Thai villages near the border have also been displaced, ministry spokeswoman Tanee Sangrat said at a briefing with 220 people seeking deeper refuge in Thai territory for security.
“The situation has escalated, so we can’t go back,” said Warong Tisakul, 33, a Thai villager of Mae Sam Laep, a now-abandoned settlement in front of the Myanmar army site attacked this week. .
“Security officials don’t allow us, we can’t go back.”
“Thousands of Myanmar’s Karen villagers are about to cross into Thailand if, as expected, fighting intensifies between Myanmar’s army and Karen’s insurgents.” “People say the Burmese will come and shoot us, so we fled here.” https://t.co/hjMLTqCDZG pic.twitter.com/NBxBbLHUO3
– Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) April 30, 2021
There have also been strong clashes in northern Myanmar between government forces and ethnic Kachin fighters.
The media reported heavy casualties among government troops in recent days, but a spokesman for the armed group of Kachin’s independent army said it could not confirm any figures.
“There will be casualties on both sides as there is fighting,” spokesman Naw Bu said by telephone.
The Karen, Kachin and several other armed groups have supported pro-democracy protesters who have taken to the streets in towns and cities across the country to oppose the return of the military government.
Security forces have killed at least 759 protesters since the coup, according to the activist group of the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners. Reuters cannot confirm the victim’s toll.
The army has acknowledged the deaths of some protesters, killed after the violence began, he says. Several members of the security forces have been killed in the protests, the army says.
Meanwhile, several posts on social media reported that several more youths were taken by security forces on Friday without arrest warrants.
Pro-democracy protests continued across the country on Friday, including the country’s largest city, Yangon and Mandalay.