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Fighting along Burma’s border has spread south to Payathonzu and troops from a breakaway Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) say they are razing government property there.
Burmese soldiers are repositioning themselves on the edge of the town, which lies across the border from Thailand’s Sangkhla Buri, a DKBA official there told DVB over the phone, as gunfire sounded in the background.
“We seized control of the SB [police Special Intelligence Department] office and [Military Affairs Security] buildings,” he said, adding that one Burmese soldier had been killed. The Ministry of Information office and Ministry of Construction office were also on fire.
The order to burn government offices had been sent from the top, he said. “They have documents on all the data and conspiracies planned against us in those buildings.”
Further north, some 5000 refugees are thought to have crossed into Thailand, as fighting broke out in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy. Kitty McKinsey, spokesperson for the UNHCR, said that refugees were being taken by the Thai army to a location close to Mae Sot airport, and were in need of food and water.
Refugees who have fled fighting in Myawaddy are seen walking to a location close to Mae Sot airport (Source: Ashin Sopaka)
Gunfire and explosions have been ringing out from Myawaddy since 9am today, following an incursion into the town by DKBA troops yesterday afternoon. Unofficial border gates are still teeming with people fleeing the violence.
“The border gate has now been shut down from the Burmese side,” said one Myawaddy resident who made it to Thailand. “The refugees are being given transportation, water and other necessary help [by the Thai army].”
An announcement was made earlier today by the Burmese army in Myawaddy that residents should evacuate the town, as fighting looks set to intensify. This faction of the DKBA, once loyal to the ruling junta, is being led by renegade commander Na Kham Mwe, who refused demands to transform into a government proxy army.
Additional reporting by Aye Nai