Battles continue on Thai-Myanmar border near Myawaddy

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and allied anti-junta forces battled repeatedly this week with the military in and near the border town of Myawaddy, Karen State. 

According to local sources, the clashes occurred between Sunday and Wednesday near the village of Me Ka Nei, Myawaddy Township, which is located on the Thaungyin (Moei) River opposite the town of Mae Sot, Tak Province, Thailand. The military reportedly carried out airstrikes during the fighting.

During a battle that broke out on Wednesday morning, the military’s Myawaddy-based Infantry Battalion 275 also fired several shells on Me Ka Nei and the surrounding area, according to a spokesperson for Venom People’s Defence Force (PDF), a KNLA-allied column.

“The junta forces suffered a high number of casualties. Our comrades on the front line told us that there were junta soldiers’ bodies scattered everywhere and that the junta column retreated then started firing off shells. Fighter jets also came to attack the area this morning,” the Venom PDF spokesperson said.

Myanmar Now has yet to confirm the precise casualty figures, as the fighting is ongoing and spokespersons for the junta have not responded to requests for comment. 

Venom PDF also issued a statement claiming they had engaged in battle with regime forces wearing KNLA uniforms who launched an assault in Me Ka Nei on Tuesday morning. Two junta soldiers were killed and several weapons were seized, according to the statement.

Myanmar Now was unable to confirm these claims independently. 

A woman assisting in the affairs of internally displaced persons said that most of Me Ka Nei’s residents had fled the village due to the proximity of the military airstrikes.

She said that nearly 400 Me Ka Nei residents had taken shelter at a monastery in Myawaddy, while more than 1,000 had fled elsewhere, including to the banks of the Thaungyin (Moei) River on the border.

The Karen National Union–the ethnic political organisation for which the KNLA serves as the armed wing–and allied groups prohibited traffic on the Asia Highway, a critical route for Thai-Myanmar border trade, between April 7 and 21. However, commercial trucks reportedly began using the highway again on Monday.

Fierce fighting in the Karen State townships of Myawaddy and Kawkareik has already displaced thousands of civilians from their homes, forcing some over the border into Thailand in recent weeks.  

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