Airstrikes by Myanmar junta as guerrillas seize govt base

Bangkok, April 27

Ethnic Karen guerrillas said they captured a Myanmar army base on Tuesday near the border with Thailand, representing a morale-boosting action for those opposing the military’s takeover of the country’s civilian government in February.

Myanmar’s military launched airstrikes several hours later on villages in territory controlled by the Karen forces, said a guerrilla spokesman, a senior Thai official and a relief worker.

Smoke rises from a Myanmar army camp near the border of Myanmar and Thailand. AP/PTI

A spokesman for the Karen National Union, the minority’s main political group seeking greater autonomy from Myanmar’s central government, said its armed wing attacked the base at 5 am and burnt it down just after dawn.

Casualty figures were not yet known, the KNU’s head of foreign affairs, Padoh Saw Taw Nee, said in a text message. There was no immediate comment from Myanmar’s military government.

The KNU, which controls territory in eastern Myanmar near the Thai border, is a close ally of the resistance movement against the military takeover that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Its armed wing is called the Karen National Liberation Army.

Video shot from the Thai side of the border showed flames rising from the government position on the banks of the Salween river amid the sound of heavy gunfire. The river marks the border with Thailand. — AP

25,000 villagers flee homes, hide in jungles, caves

  • Myanmar jets have bombed and strafed Karen villages, and its army has deployed fresh battalions in the area, in a possible preparation for a large-scale offensive.
  • Up to 25,000 villagers have fled their homes and are hiding in jungles and caves. In response, the KNLA has kept up guerrilla attacks on Myanmar patrols and bases.
  • The Karen National Union has also given shelter to activists against military rule who have fled the government’s crackdown on the resistance movement in the cities.

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