THAI SECURITY forces moved two batches of refugees fleeing clashes between Myanmar junta troops and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) fighters in Myawaddy district to a school in Mae Sot district of Tak province for safety, Siam Rath newspaper said this evening (Dec. 16).
The Myanmar troops, armed with both individual and heavy weapons, clashed intermittently with KNLA fighters last evening and it was initially reported that six Myanmar junta troops were killed, eight injured and 13 captured.
During the fighting several shots hit the houses of people living on the Myanmar bank of the Moei river but there were no reports of any injury or death. However, the sound of weapon fire could be heard from time to time.
Thai officials said it could not yet be determined what triggered these clashes.
Initially over 700 Myanmar refugees living on Moei river bank had crossed over and taken shelter at some cow sheds. However when a stray shell landed in an overgrown sugarcane plantation less than 500 metres away from where they were sheltering, Thai officials moved them to Mae Tao Klang School and gave them food, drinking water and face masks.
This stray shell sparked a fire that spread in the sugarcane fields prompting Thai villagers and the village security team to flee for safety. Officers called in fire trucks from Tha Sai Luat subdistrict municipality to extinguish the blaze but the villagers’ sugarcane fields were heavily damaged before it was put out.
Later another batch of 1,300 Myanmar refugees were moved to this school which is about three kilometres away from the border.
Refugees being moved to safety as Myanmar junta troops clashed with KNLA fighters just across the border from Mae Sot. Photos: Siam Rath