Myanmar: Thailand braced for more refugees as thousands flee airstrikes in border region of Karen state

Thailand is bracing itself for an influx of refugees after Myanmar’s military launched further airstrikes in the border region of Karen state.

The Karen Peace Support Network said there had been three strikes overnight into Monday in the Day Pu No area, with at least one villager badly injured.

Airstrikes on Saturday night claimed the lives of three civilians and at least two soldiers from the Karen National Union, according to relief organisation Free Burma Rangers.

The attacks may have been in retaliation against the Karen National Liberation Army, which is fighting for greater autonomy – attacking and capturing a government military outpost on Saturday morning.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 civilians have fled from the southeastern state across the border to Thailand in an effort to escape the violence.

At the same time, thousands of people are heading towards Karen state from other parts of Myanmar, with violence worsening across the country since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s government at the beginning of February.

More gunfire was reported on Sunday as people gathered for the funeral of one of at least 114 people said to have been killed by Myanmar security forces on Saturday.

As of Sunday, at least 459 people had been killed since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, although the true toll is likely to be higher.

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has told Britons in Myanmar to “leave the country by commercial means as soon as possible”, saying that this advice follows “a significant increase in the level of recent violence”.

Defence chiefs from 12 countries, including the UK and US, issued a statement condemning the “use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar armed forces and associated security services”.

“We urge the Myanmar armed forces to cease violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions,” they said.

The UN Security Council is likely to discuss the situation this week but any sanctions against the military would need the support or abstention of Myanmar’s friend, China.

US Defence Secretary Antony Blinken said he was “horrified by the bloodshed perpetrated by Burmese security forces, showing that the junta will sacrifice the lives of the people to serve the few”.

“The courageous people of Burma reject the military’s reign of terror,” he added.

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