WITH the fighting between Myanmar junta troops and Karen insurgents just across the border from Tak province having halted for three days in a row Myanmar refugees who fled to the Thai side for safety have started voluntarily returning home, TV Channel 7 said this evening (July 5).
The fierce fighting between the two sides saw an intrusion into Thai airspace by a Myanmar MiG-29 for around 15 minutes last Thursday and while the Thai air force scrambled two F-16 Fighting Falcon jets it was reported that this was after the Myanmar fighter jet had flown back.
Prime Minister-cum-Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and air force chief ACM Napadej Dhupatemiya have been called to testify before the House Armed Services Committee over this crossborder intrusion.
However with fighting having now halted 312 refugees sheltering in Wale subdistrict of Popphra district crossed a bridge over a creek to New Wale village in Myanmar.
As people living in the two villages are mostly related to each other, the Tak provincial authorities allow them to cross back and forth to trade and work. Under normal circumstances a market fair is also held here regularly.
Another 180 refugees who sheltered at Mo Koe village likewise crossed back to Myanmar by using a rope strung across the creek. It was difficult to do so but Thai troops were on hand to help them get across.
Meanwhile a third group of 262 refugees sheltering at Muen Ruechai village chose to remain on the Thai side as they wanted to watch the situation in their homeland a little longer.
The commander of the 14th Infantry Regiment Special Task Force said soldiers were heavily guarding this border area all 24 hours as even though fighting had halted for three days it was still necessary to be vigilant.
Thai troops bidding farewell to Myanmar refugees returning home. The Thai headline says, “Steadily returning home after the situation quietened down.” Photo: TV Channel 7