Yangon: Heavy fighting erupted at a Myanmar army outpost near the eastern border with Thailand early on April 27 in an area largely controlled by forces of a Karen ethnic army.
The Karen National Union (KNU), Myanmar’s oldest rebel force, said it had captured the army camp on the west bank of the Salween river, which forms the border with Thailand. The Myanmar military later hit back against the insurgents with air strikes, the KNU and Thai authorities said.
The fighting also came days after Southeast Asian leaders said they had reached consensus with the junta on ending violence.
Villagers across the Salween river in Thailand said heavy gunfire started before sunrise. Video posted on social media showed flames and smoke on the forested hillside.
The Myanmar army made no immediate comment. It historically proclaimed itself the one institution that can keep the multi-ethnic country of over 53 million people together, though much of Myanmar has rallied in opposition to its coup.
The army base at the Thai border had been largely surrounded by KNU forces and food had run short in recent weeks, according to Thai villagers who had had contact with the soldiers.
Karen groups say 24,000 people have been displaced in recent weeks by the violence, including air strikes by Myanmar’s air force, and are sheltering in the jungle.
Some of Myanmar’s two dozen armed groups have supported opponents of the junta, whose forces have killed more than 750 civilians to try to suppress protests against the coup, according to an activist group.