Thousands of Myanmar’s Karen refugees attempt to flee to Northern Thailand as army’s air assault strikes border areas

Thailand –

More than 2,000 villagers from Myanmar’s Karen state evacuated to Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand yesterday, March 28th, after the Myanmar military reportedly launched an air raid in the evening in several areas, including a displacement camp.

The airstrikes in the evening also reportedly killed at least two soldiers from the Karen National Union (KNU) and wounding several others, forcing more than 10,000 people to flee from their home. The KNU is an armed ethnic minority group who have their own territory in the South of Myanmar and have had conflicts with the Myanmar army, also known as the Tatmadaw, for decades.

This is the first air attack since the military coup, led by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, had overthrown Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1st. The strike followed an alleged attack on a military outpost by the KNU.

Sithichai Jindaluang, Mae Hong Son governor, revealed to the press that a total of 2,194 refugees have fled to Thailand and are expected to increase as the bloodshed situation in the neighboring country is escalating.

The provincial authority has prepared refugee camps at Khun Yuam district with the primary supervision of the 36th Rangers Regiment. However, the province will have to wait for an order from the Thai government in order to provide more spaces for the refugees. Reports on Monday night claimed some refugees were turned back as authorities were waiting for more space.

The local administration in Mae Sariang district said that there are no exact details on how many refugees have shown up because the area is overseen by the military and other agencies are prohibited access.

Meanwhile, Mae Sai Police confiscated four postal boxes of about 4,000 shots of 5.56mm. ammunition six boxes of 6,000 various other types of ammunition, and 50 K-75 grenades at a postal shop in Chiang Rai province. All of them were from Chonburi and expected to be delivered to Tachileik, Myanmar.

A 30-year-old Thai national who was spotted entering the shop to receive the packages and his driver was captured by the police. According to their initial statement, they did not know what was inside the box but they were hired to take the packages to the Myanmar border. They were detained that the local police station for further investigation. It was unclear who the package was to be delivered to or who sent the package.

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