Myanmar junta launches oxygen raids in rebel territory

29 April, 2021
Myanmar junta launches oxygen raids in rebel territory
Myanmar's military launched air assaults for the next day in a row into rebel-held territory after gunfire was heard from neighbouring Thailand, a Thai official said on Wednesday (Apr 28), as fighting escalates along the border.

Myanmar has been around turmoil because the junta ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a Feb 1 coup, its power grab angering a lot of its population.

The anti-junta movement in addition has garnered some support from some ethnic rebel groups, which control territory along Myanmar's border regions.

The Karen National Union (KNU), just about the most prominent, has been among the junta's most vocal opponents - blasting the junta for violence against anti-coup protesters.

Clashes with the military in KNU's territory along the eastern border have increased since Feb 1, with the junta deploying air assaults last month - the first instance in Karen state in over twenty years.

The KNU's Fifth Brigade on Tuesday attacked and razed an army base on the banks of the Salween River - which demarcates a border between Thailand and Myanmar - and the military retaliated with air offensives.

On Wednesday, gunfire and bomb explosions could once more be heard around 9am near Myanmar's Dar Gwin military base - located just north of yesterday's skirmish.

"It really is suspected that (Myanmar) soldiers opened fire to protect their base," said a statement from Sithichai Jindaluang, the governor of Mae Hong Son province which borders Myanmar's Karen state.

Two Myanmar military airplanes then "launched an air strike and aerial gunfire", followed by rockets fired from helicopters around noon, he said.

The governor added that 68 Myanmar residents crossed into Thailand today for refuge.

Your day before, a 45-year-old Myanmar national had crossed over at night after Tuesday's fighting to get medical help for his wounded wrist. He is now "stable".
KNU's head of foreign affairs Padoh Saw Taw Nee confirmed the air raids, but said their soldiers "didn't attack anything today".

He also criticised the junta for launching air assaults on a location where there are civilians.

"This is not the proper way to allow them to retaliate for the reason that air strikes is considerable power when compared to might of (KNU's militia)," he told AFP.

"They have to target military, however now all we see are civilians getting hurt."

Both Thai governor and KNU could not confirm any casualties from Wednesday's air raids.

There were also air raids in northern Kachin state Wednesday, Col Naw Bu, a spokesman for the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) told AFP.

"Both sides have casualties," he said.

More than 24,000 people have already been displaced from their homes because the military launched its first air strikes in the region last month.

Within Myanmar, the junta's security forces have killed more than 750 civilians since Feb 1, according to an area monitoring group tracking the death toll.