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Myanmar military bombs rebel-held territory near Thai border

The file photo, taken on October 14, 2016, shows armed rebels moving toward the frontline near Laiza in Kachin state, Myanmar. (Via AFP)

For the second consecutive day in Myanmar, the military has conducted air assaults on the rebel-held territory near the eastern border with Thailand.

Sithichai Jindaluang, the governor of Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province which borders Myanmar’s Karen state, said in a statement on Wednesday that gunfire and bomb explosions could once again be heard in the morning near Myanmar’s Dar Gwin military base.

“It is suspected that (Myanmar) soldiers opened fire to protect their base.”

Two military airplanes, the statement said, “launched an airstrike and aerial gunfire” afterward. Around noon rockets were fired from helicopters.

Forces of the Karen National Union (KNU) — one of the largest armed groups in Myanmar — reportedly seized an army base in Karen near the Salween River early on Tuesday.

The KNU head of foreign affairs Padoh Saw Taw has said, “This is not the proper way for them to retaliate because the airstrikes is extensive power compared to the might of (KNU’s militia).”

Fighting has escalated in the border territory since Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup in February.

A number of the nearly 20 armed militant groups – such as the KNU – that control large areas mostly in border regions have threatened to retaliate.

Clashes have so far displaced more than 24,000 civilians in recent weeks.

Separately, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said about 50 clashes between the military and ethnic rebels had been reported in several areas in Kachin state. Nearly 5,000 people have been displaced.

Kachin has been hosting internally displaced persons since 2011. 

Apart from the political strife in the aftermath of the military takeover of February 1, nearly one million people across Myanmar, over two-thirds of them women and children, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The junta has killed more than 750 civilians since the military takeover.

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