Three Myanmar resistance fighters detained in Thailand and delivered to junta ally — source

A military-allied Border Guard Force (BGF) in Karen State is said to have shot and detained three members of a resistance group who were sent back to Myanmar by the Thai authorities this week after they attempted to seek medical care across the border in the neighbouring country. 

The men in question were from the Lion Battalion Commando Special Force, which operates under another recently formed resistance group, the Kawthoolei Army, in southeastern Myanmar. They were identified by a source close to them as Thiha, 38; Htet Nay Win, 31; and Saw Phyo Lay, 26. 

On Saturday, they had reportedly tried to enter Thailand’s Tak Province to obtain treatment for injuries Thiha suffered during an attack on a Myanmar army base in Kyondo, Kawkareik Township, on March 25.

Thai immigration authorities intercepted the men as they made their way to the town of Mae Sot, the source told Myanmar Now, taking them into state custody.

On Monday, the source familiar with the case claimed that officials from the Karen National Union (KNU), a longstanding ethnic armed organisation active in the region, had reached out to the local Thai immigration office in the evening to negotiate the men’s release, and were instructed to return the next day. 

When they came back at 11am on Tuesday, they were reportedly informed that the detainees had already been sent back across the border to Myanmar. 

Myanmar Now made multiple calls to the KNU for comment on the incident, but they went unanswered. 

The source explained that the Thai officials had placed the three men in a boat to cross the Moei (Thaungyin) River back to Karen State at around 8am. The location of their deportation was opposite a BGF base in the village of Ingyin Myaing.

He said that residents in the area witnessed BGF troops shooting at the men before abducting them. 

“The men were shot when they jumped from the boat into the river to run away,” he told Myanmar Now, citing locals. 

Thiha was reportedly hit in the chest, and Saw Phyo Lay in the thigh; details about Htet Nay Win’s injuries were not known at the time of reporting. 

“After they were arrested, the BGF members covered their heads with black hoods,” the source said. 

He claimed that BGF officer Maj Thet Naing Zaw was seen by locals handing the men to a Myanmar army base in Myawaddy Township at 11pm that night. 

Myanmar Now was unable to confirm this account, and neither the condition nor the whereabouts of the three resistance fighters was known at the time of reporting on Friday. 

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