THAI sources in Mae Hong Son province confirmed that the Kachin rebel army did shoot down a Myanmar military helicopter with this being a Russian model similar to the type used to strafe Karen insurgents who have also been fighting the Myanmar forces recently, TV Channel 7 said this afternoon (May 4).
Meanwhile Myanmar Nows news site said yesterday that the Myanmar military continued to launch lethal air attacks on villages in Kachin State’s Momauk township after one of its helicopters was shot down by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) that same morning.
However it is quiet across the border from this Thai province today with being seen as Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) adjusting their strategy for a new attack against Myanmar troops.
Mae Hong Son Governor Sitthichai Chindaluang today visited two groups of Thais who had to evacuate their villages due to the fighting right next to the border.
The two groups of Thai evacuees, one 84 and the other 70, have been sheltered separately with the former being at Sop Moei district and the latter Mae Sariang.
Altogether 2,318 Myanmar refugees who fled the fighting between Karens and Myanmar army are being sheltered in four different places as follows:
– 320 at Mae Yuam subdistrict, Mae Sariang district;
– 72 in Huai Ko Hay area, Mae Yuam subdistrict, Mae Sariang District;
– 1,767 in Huai Um Pa area, Mae Yuam subdistrict, Mae Sariang District;
– 159 in Huai Or Loh area, Mae Yuam subdistrict, Mae Sariang District.
KIA spokesperson Col Naw Bu said Kachin forces shot and destroyed a junta helicopter between the villages of Myo Thit and Kone Law in Momauk at around 8 a.m.
“We shot it down during a battle. Fighter jets also came to the area,” Col Naw Bu said. “The battles are not on the ground—the military are launching airstrikes and using sophisticated weapons.”
After losing the helicopter, the regime’s armed forces continued its air attacks on Myo Thit, Kone Law and Si Hat villages, he added.
A 60-year-old man and a Buddhist monk, whose age was not known at the time of reporting, were killed in the strikes, local media reported. At least 10 villagers were injured, according to the Kachinwaves news outlet.
Fighting has intensified between the KIA and the military’s 77th Light Infantry Division in Momauk in recent days. A battle on April 29 killed 20 regime soldiers and led to a KIA seizure of junta weaponry, according to a KIA source.
The clash took place below Alaw Bum, a strategically important hill base that the KIA seized on March 25. The Tatmadaw has launched numerous air and ground attacks in a bid to reclaim it but has suffered heavy losses.
At the time of reporting, Alaw Bum was still in KIA hands.
The Myanmar military has also launched around 30 airstrikes since late March in Mutraw (Hpapun) district, Karen State. The territory is controlled by the 5th Brigade of the Karen National Union’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).
The airstrikes and heavy artillery fire, largely aimed at civilian targets, had driven people to seek refuge across the border in Thailand, according to the Karen Peace Support Network.
The most recent round of regime air attacks followed the KNLA’s seizure of a junta base in the Thaw Le Hta area of Mutraw, across the Salween River from Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province, on April 27.
Many of the airstrikes have taken place near the Ei Htu Hta internally displaced people’s camp near the Salween River, forcing the camp’s population of more than 2,000 into hiding. Many are among the recent refugees in Thailand.
More displaced villagers from Karen State are expected to flee to Thailand if the regime’s airstrikes continue.
Top: The site of the crash after the KIA shoots down a Myanmar military helicopter in Momauk, Kachin State. Photo: CJ and published by Myanmar Now.
Home Page: Mae Hong Son Governor Sitthichai giving encouragement to Thais displaced by fighting right across the border. Thai headline says, “Encouraging the people.” Photo: TV Channel 7