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Myanmar Forces Launch Airstrikes on Village Near Thai Border



Myanmar Forces Launch Airstrikes Near Thai Border

The Myanmar military has launched airstrikes against ethnic Karen rebels near the town of Lay Kay Kaw close to the Thai border.

In Lay Kay Kaw, just 20 km from the Thai border, thousands of local residents have already fled fighting since December. The town has been a refuge for pro-democracy activists since the army took power last year.

An official with Myanmar’s Karen National Union (KNU), which is the country’s oldest ethnic rebel group, said the army appeared to be reinforcing the area after Sunday’s clashes, but he had not yet heard of any fresh fighting on Monday.

The KNU is not retreating, but sending in more soldiers, Karen National Union spokesman Padoh Saw Taw Nee said. As well as two of their own fighters, 45 Myanmar soldiers were killed by the group’s forces.

Myanmar Army Captain Held Hostage

According to Public Voice Television, which is backed by a shadow government set up after the coup, the rebels took a captain from the Myanmar army hostage during the fighting.

In recent months, Lay Kay Kaw has largely been under the control of the KNU, but the army has at times tried to reassert control, and fighting erupted last December when troops attempted to arrest people in the town.

According to Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the KNU tried to push back army troops who entered one district on Sunday, resulting in the clashes. Myanmar’s military responded by conducting airstrikes, according to rebels and the Myanmar Now News.

In Mae Sot on the Thai side of the border, residents reported hearing gunfire and what sounded like explosions. Some said they could feel the ground shake.

To protect civilians, the KNU had called on the international community to establish a no-fly zone in the area.

Since the army ousted a civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi last year, the country has been in turmoil, leading to a bloody crackdown of protests by security forces and the formation of anti-junta militias sometimes allied with ethnic rebel groups.

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