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Myanmar: Thousands continue to flee to Thailand, day after losing vital border town

Myanmar’s once-mighty armed forces have suffered a series of unprecedented defeats since last October, losing swathes of territory including border posts to both ethnic fighters and guerrilla units.

Edited By: Hritika Mitra @MitraHritika Yangon Updated on: April 13, 2024 8:35 IST
Myanmar residents cross the Moei river on the Thai side.
Image Source : AP Myanmar residents cross the Moei river on the Thai side.

A stream of Myanmar citizens queued at a border crossing to flee to Thailand early on Friday (April 12), a day after the strategically vital town of Myawaddy fell to anti-junta resistance that has been growing in strength.

The number of people crossing over from Myawaddy to Thailand’s adjoining Mae Sot doubled earlier this week to around 4,000 daily, as fighting in Myanmar intensified.

At the one fully operational border crossing at Mae Sot, in Thailand's west, many of those fleeing Myanmar said they left their homes fearing for their safety after hearing the sound of aerial bombing.

India relocates staff from Sitwee as security situation remains precarious

Just a day earlier, India said it relocated its staff from its consulate in Myanmarese city of Sittwe to Yangon in view of the precarious security situation in that region of Myanmar. External Affairs Ministry (EAM) spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said India is closely monitoring the situation in Myanmar, adding the Indian consulate in Mandalay remains functional.

Asked about reports of kidnapping of three Indian youths, he said the Indian embassy is working on the matter and hoped that they would be back home soon. Several parts of Myanmar have been witnessing intense fighting between the military junta and resistance forces. The resistance forces have already captured several towns.

Thai foreign minister urges Myanmar’s military to avoid violent attack on border town

Thailand’s foreign minister on Friday said he urged Myanmar’s military authorities not to violently respond to its army’s loss of an important border trading town to its opponents, and that so far they seemed to be exercising restraint. 

Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara spoke during a visit to Mae Sot, which lies directly across a river from Myanmar’s Myawaddy, where army troops abandoned their last defensive position early Thursday.

Their hasty escape ceded virtual control of the busy trading town to guerrillas of the ethnic Karen National Union and its allies, including members of the pro-democracy People’s Defense Forces.

Myanmar’s once-mighty armed forces have suffered a series of unprecedented defeats since last October, losing swathes of territory including border posts to both ethnic fighters and guerrilla units. Civilians took up arms after the generals seized power in 2021 from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The military has frequently hit back heavily, using air power.

(With inputs from Agencies)

ALSO READ | Myanmar: Ethnic rebels declare control over key border town as 200 military personnel flee

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