Karen Villagers In Myanmar Desperately Want To Go To Thailand To Get Away From FIghting

After fighting intensifies between the Myanmar army and Karen fighters, thousands of ethnic Karen villagers are poised to cross into Thailand to rejoin those who have already fled the chaos following the February 1 coup.
The Myanmar army and the Karen rebels have clashed near the Thai border in the weeks since Myanmar’s generals deposed an elected government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, displacing many villagers on both sides of the border.
The Burmese are threatening to come and shoot us, so we fled to Thailand, Chu Wah, a Karen villager who crossed over from Myanmar to Thailand this week with his family from the Ee Thu Hta displacement camp, told the Reuters news agency.
According to Chu Wah, she had to cross the Salween River, which forms the border in the area.
Karen Peace Support Network says thousands of villagers are taking refuge on the Myanmar side of the Salween river and will flee to Thailand if the fighting escalates.
Over 8,000 Karen along the Salween river will have to flee to Thailand in the coming days. The group said in a Facebook post that it hoped the Thai army would help them escape the war.
Karen fighters on Tuesday morning overran a Myanmar army unit on the west bank of the Salween in an early-morning attack, killing 13 soldiers and three Karen fighters. The Myanmar military responded with air raids near the Thai border.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman said 2,267 civilians had crossed into Thailand since the latest clashes began early Friday. Thailand has reinforced its forces and restricted access to the border.
Tanee Sangrat, the ministry spokesman, said two Thai villages near the border have also been displaced, with 220 people seeking refuge in Thai territory for safety.
Security officials won’t let us, we can’t go back to Mae Sam Laep, where the abandoned settlement opposite the Myanmar Army post was attacked this week.
Meanwhile, there have been heavy clashes in the northern part of Myanmar between the government and Kachin fighters.
A Kachin Independence Army spokesman said he did not know the numbers of casualties among government troops, but media reports said there had been heavy casualties.
Naw Bu, the spokesman, said by telephone that there would be casualties on both sides.
Pro-democracy protesters, led by the Karen and Kachin, have taken to the streets in towns and cities across the country to oppose the return of military rule.
A group affiliated with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners claims the security forces have killed at least 759 protesters since the coup. Reuters is unable to confirm the casualty toll.
The military has acknowledged the deaths of a number of protesters, killed after they initiated violence, it says. Several members of the security forces have also been killed during the protests, it adds.

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