Myanmar junta soldiers surrender in Thailand after border clash

Pimuk Rakkanam for RFA and RFA Burmese
Myanmar junta soldiers surrender in Thailand after border clash A Thai soldier mans a mounted gun near the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 2 in Mae Sot, Thailand, April 13, 2024.

Dozens of Burmese soldiers fled into Thailand following a clash with ethnic minority insurgents, a Thai commander told Radio Free Asia on Friday, the latest spillover from increasingly bitter fighting across the border in Myanmar.

The junta troops fled a base in Kayin State’s southern Myawaddy district following attacks from the anti-junta Karen National Liberation Army, or KNLA, and allied groups, the Thai officer said.

“There were 31 Myanmar soldiers surrendering,” said Ratchamanu Task Force Commander Col. Nattakorn Reuntib, who is based in western Thailand’s Tak province, on the Myanmar border.

“They were disarmed, identified, treated and are awaiting repatriation through the Thai-Myanmar border coordination center,” he told RFA, a news service affiliated with BenarNews.

Some troops were injured, he added. RFA could not confirm where they were being treated.

A KNLA soldier said about 20 junta soldiers were killed when Karen fighters captured their Po Chi Mu camp.

“The camp has been captured. Forty-eight junta troops, including officers, surrendered and about 20 were found dead,” the soldier said, declining to be identified for security reasons. 

An official from the Karen rebel force, which has been battling for self-determination for decades, told RFA that the junta troops escaping into Thailand had killed four civilians.

“The Thai army found the fleeing junta soldiers near Ohm Phyan village and arrested them,” he said, also requesting anonymity for safety reasons.

“They killed three villagers and another, a pregnant woman on her way to hospital, when they fled. They are now being questioned by the Thai army … but we don’t know what they’ll do with them,” said the official, who declined to be identified for security reasons.

Karen forces have been attacking the Po Chi Mu camp, opposite Thailand’s Umphang district, since May 19 and junta airstrikes in the area have forced hundreds to flee into Thailand, media reported.

Myanmar’s junta has been coming under pressure in different parts of the country since anti-junta forces went on offensive late last year. 

Pro-democracy activists took up arms after the Burmese generals toppled an elected government in a February 2021 coup, joining with ethnic minority insurgents to pose the most significant challenge to the military since shortly after the country’s independence from Britain.

Junta forces fled into Thailand during fighting in April with Karen forces over control of the main border town of Myawaddy. The Thai government warned both sides not to use Thai territory for any military advantage.


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