Myanmar: Rebel fighters pressure junta at border hub

Myanmar: Rebel fighters pressure junta at border hub
Myanmar: Rebel fighters pressure junta at border hub

The Myanmar military and an ethnic minority armed group have clashed for a second day near Myawaddy — an important frontier trading point. Thailand has said it is prepared for tens of thousands of refugees.

Fighters led by the Karen National Union (KNU) on Wednesday fought Myanmar junta soldiers around the frontier town of Myawaddy as Thailand prepared for an influx of refugees from the hotspot.

The alliance of groups opposed to the country’s ruling military junta has already inflicted heavy losses on Myanmar’s army around the vital trade hub, through which more than $1.1 billion (around €1 billion) worth of trade passes annually.

What we know so far

 The KNU said on Saturday that it had taken control of a military base about 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the west of Myawaddy and that hundreds of soldiers, police, and their families had surrendered.

Residents told the AFP news agency that fighting started around the town on Tuesday, driving residents to flee across the border.

The Bangkok Post on Wednesday said insurgents were attacking the military’s last holdout in Myawaddy.

Another local told German news agency DPA that KNU rebels had taken control of government buildings in the city and that buildings in the city’s trade zone had been set on fire in the fighting.

As the fighting intensified in the area, Thailand’s foreign minister on Tuesday said his country was readying itself for some 100,000 people fleeing Myanmar.

The country shares a 2,400-kilometer (1,490-mile) border with Myanmar, which has been plunged into a civil war since the military leadership overthrew the democratically elected government in 2021.

How is the country’s military holding out?

Myanmar’s military junta has ruled brutally since a coup in February 2021, but its army is considered weakened after sustaining heavy losses in the fight against numerous guerrilla groups.

In the past five months, the junta’s opponents have won territory in northern Shan state and western Rakhine state in the west, as well as coming under increasing attack elsewhere.

Myanmar’s military leaders activated a conscription law in February in a bid to replenish the military’s badly diminished ranks.

Men aged 18 to 35 and women 18 to 27 can be drafted into Myanmar’s armed forces for up to two years. The military says some 14 million men and women of the total 56 million population of the country are eligible for military service.

Independent media in the country on Tuesday reported that some young people had staged brief protests against conscription — as flash mobs to avoid attacks or arrests  — at three locations in the largest city of Yangon.

Source: Dw

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