MYANMAR junta launched airstrikes at villages just across the border from Mae Sot district leading to urgent evacuation in the middle of last night with this following at least six ground raids at Karen National Union (KNU) occupied areas the previous day, Matichon and Sanook.com said today (Dec. 24).
The aerial assault that started at 10:45 p.m. following the previous day’s ground raids during which over 20 anti-junta political activists were arrested, Radio Free Asia quoted officials in the area as saying.
After the Myanmar junta jets started bombing the villages across the border from Mae Sot Myanmar villagers, including women, children and the elderly, ran out and gathered at the bank of the Moei River.
Initially Thai troops from the 14th Infantry Regiment and 346th Border Patrol Police Company did not allow them to cross over to Thailand but as the waves of bombings continue, at 1.30 a.m. they were allowed in.
Thai villagers living near the border too fled to their relatives’ home further inland. The sound of the airstrikes could be heard in Mae Sot city frightening the residents there.
The refugees were taken to Baan Rai Don Chai and Baan Mahawan Moei Khong villages in Mae Sot’s Mahawan subdistrict for safety according to humanitarian principles.
Radio Free Asia said the fighting between Myanmar junta forces and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), KNU’s military arm, together with members of People’s Defence Force (PDF) civilian resistance groups started on Dec. 15. After three days of heavy fighting a temporary ceasefire was agreed upon by the two sides.
That led to 4,216 refugees who had fled to the Thai side voluntarily asking to be repatriated to their homeland and steadily returning.
Myanmar refugees fleeing the aerial assault of the villages being taken to a safer area further inland. Photos: Matichon