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Myanmar civilians flee into Thailand to escape troops-rebels clashes

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Mon people take shelter at Wat Tao Than in Sangkhla Buri district, Kanchanaburi, fleeing the clashes between Myanmar troops and Mon fighters. Bangkok Post

KANCHANABURI, Thailand (Bangkok Post) – Mon civilians continued to flee into Thailand on Thursday to escape fighting between Myanmar troops and rebels across the border from this western province.

The fighting at Ban Bo Yeepun village, about 2km inside Myanmar from the Three Pagodas border pass in Sangkhla Buri district, began on Wednesday morning. More than 700 people have fled to safety on Thai soil near the pass.

Sangkhla Buri district chief Pakorn Kanwanlee on Thursday sent local Red Cross workers to provide humanitarian assistance to the refugees.

The fighting died down on Wednesday afternoon and all was quiet overnight an official source said.

Col Sitthiporn Julapana, commander of the Lat Ya Task Force, led senior military officers, Sangkhla Buri district officials and local leaders to visit refugees at Wat Tao Than in Nong Lu commune of Sangkhla Buri district on Wednesday night. There were 447 Mon people sheltering there.

Another 117 declined to stay at temporary shelters provided by Thai authorities, saying they were worried about their belongings and wanted to cross back to their homes. However, civilians continued to stream across the border on Thursday.

A source said Myanmar government troops had reportedly captured a Mon stronghold at Ban Bo Yeepun, forcing the rebels to flee to an area near Ban Borai. There was no fighting on Wednesday night because the two sides were negotiating, the source said.

The fighting occured after Myanmar troops claimed that two houses near the Bo Yeepun stronghold encroached into government territory.

The Three Pagodas border pass has been temporarily closed since the fighting erupted. Authorities have prohibited Thais from crossing over to Payatongsu in Myanmar. Shops at the border were closed.

On Thursday morning, Kanchanaburi governor Jeerakiart Phumsawat and Maj Gen Thakat Lodsiri, commander of the 9th Infantry Division, led provincial Red Cross officials to visit the refugees at Wat Tao Than, and distributed rice and dried food.

Mr Jeerakiart said two-days’ supplies had been provided. Authorities would seek donations to help with further assistance if needed. Tourism was not being affected, he said.


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