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Monday, January 24, 2022

Fighting erupts in eastern Myanmar near Thai border | Myanmar News

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Clashes between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups, which have joined forces with those opposed to the coup, has been rising.

The Karen National Union said on Tuesday its forces had captured an outpost of the Myanmar army close to the border with Thailand after witnesses in Thailand reported heavy fighting

The camp had been occupied and burned down and the group was still checking on deaths and casualties, the armed group’s head of foreign affairs, Padoh Saw Taw Nee, told Reuters.

Gunfire could be heard from across the Salween river, which follows the border between the two countries, and video posted on social media showed fires and smoke rising from the forested hills.

“There has been heavy fighting at the Myanmar army outpost opposite Mae Sam Laep,” a provincial official from the northwestern Thai town of Mae Hong Son told the Reuters news agency. early on Tuesday “Our security officials are assessing the situation but so far there has been no report of impact on the Thai side.”

The Karen Information Center, a local media group, said the ethnic armed group had overrun the army outpost.

Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, made no immediate comment.

Fighting in the area has escalated since the generals seized power in a February 1 coup and plunged Myanmar into turmoil.

“This is very concerning,” Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, who is in Bangkok, said of the latest escalation. “This is something we have seen going on since the February coup.”

The fighting comes days after Southeast Asian countries said they had reached a consensus with Myanmar’s military government on ending the violence to try and halt the bloody crisis since the army takeover ended 10 years of tentative moves towards democracy.

In rare comments on Monday, former US President Barack Obama said he was “appalled by (the) heartbreaking violence” the military had used against civilians who were opposed to its power grab.

Obama, who championed engagement with the military as part of Myanmar’s democratisation during his two terms in office, said he supported efforts by the United States and other countries to sanction the generals and make clear the cost of their actions.

“The military’s illegitimate and brutal effort to impose its will after a decade of greater freedoms will clearly never be accepted by the people and should not be accepted by the wider world,” he said in the comments, which he shared on Twitter.

“Myanmar’s neighbors should recognize that a murderous regime rejected by the people will only bring greater instability, humanitarian crisis and the risk of a failed state.”

After years of relative quiet, there have been renewed clashes between the army and some of the ethnic armed groups mostly in the country’s border areas.

Some of the armed groups have expressed support for the opponents of the military, whose forces have killed some 753 civilians to try and stamp out the continuing protests, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking arrests and deaths.

In its latest humanitarian update on the situation in Myanmar, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that fighting had escalated in Kachin State, Northern Shan State, Kayin State and the Bago Region in the months since the coup.

About 3,000 people crossed the border into Thailand at the end of last month after the Tatmadaw bombed eastern border areas.

An estimated 40,000 people have been forced from their homes as a result of the escalation in fighting, the UN said. Most are from Kayin State.


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