Thousands flee for Thailand as Myanmar military bombs border area

Some 3,000 people from Myanmar’s southeastern Karen state fled to neighbouring Thailand after the military bombed an area held by an ethnic armed group, as Western countries condemned the escalating violence in the troubled Southeast Asian nation.

The military launched air raids on five areas in Mutraw district near the eastern border, including a displacement camp, the Karen Women’s Organization said on Sunday.

“At the moment, villagers are hiding in the jungle as more than 3,000 crossed to Thailand to take refuge,” a statement from the group said.

“We demand an international response to the atrocities taking place to send the message that the military cannot longer act with impunity,” it added.

Thai Public Broadcasting Service also reported about 3,000 had reached Thailand. There was no immediate comment by Thailand’s authorities.

Violence also continued elsewhere in Myanmar, as people gathered to mourn those killed on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the anti-coup protests since the military seized power from the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1.

In Bago, near the country’s biggest city of Yangon, soldiers opened fire on people gathering to mourn 20-year-old student Thae Maung Maung who was among those killed on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of casualties, three people in the town told the Reuters news agency.

“While we are singing the revolution song for him, security forces just arrived and shot at us,” a woman called Aye who was at the service said. “People, including us, run away as they opened fire.”

‘Absolutely outrageous’

The air assaults on Karen state are the most significant attack for years in the region controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU).

The Karen Peace Support Network said the attack took place after helicopter recconaissance of the area with two fighter jets dropping nine bombs on the night of March 27 killing three people and badly wounding seven. There were more air attacks on the following morning and afternoon including along the Salween River that marks the border.

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