A Myanmar army base burns on a bank of the Thanlwin (Salween) River, as seen on April 27 from Mae Sam Laep town in Thailand's Mae Hong Son province, after the base was captured by KNU soldiers. (Kawthoolei Today / AFP)
A Myanmar army base burns on a bank of the Thanlwin (Salween) River, as seen on April 27 from Mae Sam Laep town in Thailand's Mae Hong Son province, after the base was captured by KNU soldiers. (Kawthoolei Today / AFP)

Tatmadaw launches fresh air raids on KNU territory

Today’s aerial attacks follow the storming yesterday of a Myanmar army base on the Thanlwin River by the Karen armed group’s Fifth Brigade.

By AFP

The Tatmadaw launched air assaults for the second day in a row into Karen National Union-held territory in northern Kayin State after gunfire was heard from neighbouring Thailand, a Thai official said Wednesday.

The KNU, one of Myanmar’s most prominent ethnic armed groups, has also been among the most vocal opponents of the February 1 military coup.

Despite a ceasefire being in place since 2012, fighting between the Tatmadaw and KNU along the eastern border with Thailand has escalated since the coup. The junta deployed air assaults last month – the first instance in Kayin in over 20 years – and more than 24,000 people in the area have been displaced from their homes.

The KNU’s Fifth Brigade on Tuesday attacked and razed a Myanmar army base on the banks of the Thanlwin (Salween) River – which demarcates a border between Thailand and Myanmar – and the Tatmadaw retaliated with air offensives. 

On Wednesday, gunfire and bomb explosions could once again be heard around 9am near the Dar Gwin Tatmadaw base, located just north of yesterday’s skirmish.

“It is suspected that [Myanmar] soldiers opened fire to protect their base,” said a statement from Sithichai Jindaluang, the governor of Mae Hong Son province, which borders Kayin.

Two Myanmar military airplanes then “launched an air strike and aerial gunfire”, followed by rockets fired from helicopters around noon, he said.

The governor added that 68 Myanmar residents crossed into Thailand this morning for refuge. 

The day before, a 45-year-old Myanmar national had crossed over in the evening after Tuesday’s fighting to seek medical help for his wounded wrist. He is now “stable”.

KNU’s head of foreign affairs Padoh Saw Taw Nee confirmed the air raids but said their soldiers “did not attack anything today”. 

He also criticised the junta for launching air assaults on civilian areas.

“This is not the proper way for them to retaliate because the air strikes is extensive power compared to the might of [the KNU],” he told AFP. 

“They need to target military [personnel], but now all we see are civilians getting hurt.”

Both the Thai governor and KNU could not confirm any casualties from Wednesday’s air raids.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar