Fighting intensifies in eastern Myanmar, military thwarts attacks by resistance forces in major border cities

BANGKOK (AP) – Fighting appears to be intensifying as guerrilla fighters from the Karen ethnic minority and pro-democracy forces battled in Myanmar on Wednesday. Soldiers guarding major trading cities Witnesses said it was on the border with Thailand.

The fall of Myawaddy, the most active area of ​​Myanmar’s trade with Thailand, would be another major setback in the military’s fight against resistance groups seeking to overthrow the military-run government.

The fighting has also alarmed authorities in Bangkok, who fear large numbers of people could be forced to cross the border. Thailand’s Foreign Minister Panpuri Bahidda-Nukala said on Tuesday that Thailand could temporarily accommodate around 100,000 people in safe areas.

Myawaddy is just across the Moei River from Mae Sot district. Protect villagers fleeing from battle.

Despite the Myanmar military having an advantage in weapons and manpower, He has been on defense since October last year., when an alliance of three ethnic rebel groups launched an offensive in the northeast of the country. Since then, the resistance has taken control of key areas in northern Shan state on the border with China, made significant advances in western Rakhine state and continues to put pressure on the military in other areas.

a drone attack Last week, an assault occurred at the airport in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw by a resistance group loyal to the National Unity Government, an umbrella organization for pro-democracy forces. Although little damage was reported, it highlighted the fragility of the military junta that seized power in 2021 after ousting the elected government. Aung San Suu Kyi And now they find themselves embroiled in a civil war.

The Karen National Union, the leading political group of the Karen ethnic minority, last week announced that its armed wing Karen National Liberation ArmyTogether with their pro-democracy allies, they captured a regional military base in Shin Gan Nyinaung, on the way to Myawaddy.

More than 600 members of the security forces and their families reportedly surrendered.

Pro-democracy fighters attacked the 275th Infantry Battalion’s post about 4 kilometers (3 miles) west of Myawaddy on Tuesday night, a journalist covering the fighting in the area told The Associated Press. attacked.

The military responded with airstrikes and artillery fire, the journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of arrest by either warring side. He said guerrillas also attacked an artillery battalion in Leykeiko, a small town in southern Myawaddy district, on Wednesday.

Three Myawaddy residents who live near the 275th Infantry Battalion garrison told The Associated Press that they and other local residents took refuge in a nearby Buddhist monastery as fighting escalated on Tuesday.

Residents said three fighter jets bombed the fighting area and nearby villages during the night and early morning.

Two other residents of Myawaddy said some residents had taken refuge in Mae Sot, Thailand, but many others were working as usual despite the fighting on the outskirts of town.

Another Myawaddy resident said he crossed into Mae Sot on one of the Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Bridges on Tuesday to avoid bombings, but saw police officers still carrying out their duties on the bridge. Ta. All local residents spoke on condition of anonymity due to safety concerns.

Myanmar’s online news outlet The Irrawaddy reported on Tuesday that members of a Karen ethnic group, which is not affiliated with the Karen National Union, were guarding the bridge on the Myanmar side.

The Karen State Border Guard is nominally attached to the military, but last month it announced it would cut ties and establish itself as the Karen National Army.

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