Thousands flee to Thailand after Myanmar airstrikes

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Thousands flee to Thailand after Myanmar airstrikes


YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Thai authorities along the country’s border with Myanmar are preparing for a possible influx of more Karen villagers on Monday fleeing new airstrikes by the Burmese military.

Burmese planes carried out three strikes on Sunday night, according to Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian relief agency that provides medical and other assistance to villagers. The strikes seriously injured a child but caused no apparent deaths, a member of the agency said.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Monday acknowledged the problems across his country’s western border and said his government was preparing for a possible influx of people.

“We do not want massive migration into our territory, but we will also consider human rights,” Prayut said.

Asked about people who have already fled to Thailand, Prayut said, “We have prepared places, but we don’t want to talk about the preparation of refugee centers just yet. We won’t go that far.

About 2,500 people, including 200 students, crossed the Salween River to reach Mae Hong Son province in northern Thailand, according to Burma Free Rangers. An estimated 10,000 people are believed to be displaced in Karen state in northern Myanmar, the agency said.

Video shot on Sunday shows a group of villagers, many of them young children, resting in a clearing inside Myanmar after fleeing their homes. They carried their goods in packages and baskets.

The bombings may have been retaliation against the Karen National Liberation Army for attacking and capturing a Myanmar government military outpost on Saturday morning. The group is fighting for greater autonomy for the Karen people.

Leaders of the resistance to last month’s military coup that toppled Myanmar’s elected government are seeking the Karen and other ethnic groups to unite and join them as allies, which would add an armed element to their struggle.

According to Thoolei News, an online site that contains official information from the National Karen Union, eight government soldiers were captured in Saturday’s attack and 10 were killed. The report says that a Karen guerrilla is dead.

The airstrikes mark an escalation in the Myanmar government’s increasingly violent crackdown on opponents of the February 1 military takeover.

At least 114 people across the country were killed by security forces on Saturday alone, including several children – a death toll that has prompted a UN human rights expert to accuse the junta of ” mass murder ”and criticizing the international community for not doing enough to stop. this.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold closed-door consultations on the escalating situation in Myanmar, diplomats said on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity before an official announcement. The council condemned the violence and called for the restoration of democracy, but has not yet considered possible sanctions against the military, which would require the support or abstention of China, Myanmar’s neighbor and friend.

In Sunday’s bombings, Burmese military planes attacked a Karen guerrilla position in an area of ​​the Salween River in Mutraw district, Karen state, according to employees of two relief agencies.

Two guerrillas were killed and many more injured in the attacks, a member of the Free Burma Rangers said.

On Saturday evening, two Burmese military planes twice bombed Deh Bu Noh village in Mutraw district, killing at least two villagers.

The coup, which toppled the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, reversed years of progress towards democracy after five decades of military rule. This once again made Myanmar the center of international control, with security forces repeatedly firing at crowds of protesters.

At least 459 people have been killed since the takeover on Sunday, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, which documented the deaths it was able to verify. The real toll is believed to be higher.

A funeral was held in Myanmar on Monday for those who died protesting the coup over the weekend. In Yangon, friends and family gathered to say goodbye to Mya Khaing, 49, who was shot on Saturday.

Friends told media he was always at the forefront of protests.

As his coffin was moved to the crematorium, mourners sang a provocative song from an earlier 1988 uprising against military rule. “There is no forgiveness for you until the end of the world,” said the words of the army, calling it “monsters.” “We will never forgive what you have done.”

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