Myanmar: Karen Rebel Forces Attack Stranded Junta Troops On Thai Border


By Pimuk Rakkanam 

Gunfire, artillery and exploding bombs could be heard early Saturday around Myawaddy, a Myanmar city on the Thai border across from Mae Sot, as an ethnic Karen army closed in on about 200 junta troops stranded near a bridge between the two countries, according to the Thai military and a Radio Free Asia reporter on the scene.

The clash occurred after the Karen National Liberation Army, an armed branch of the Karen National Union, on April 10 captured most of the junta’s Infantry Battalion 275 stationed outside of Myawaddy. 

But 200 junta soldiers were left stranded at the customs compound at the No. 2 Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge across the Moei River that links the two countries.

The setback is the latest in a series of battlefield losses suffered by the junta as various rebel groups push the military back across the country amid the country’s three-year civil war that was sparked by the junta’s coup in February 2021.

The clashes started at 3 a.m. on Saturday, Thai soldiers keeping watch along the river and local residents said. The fighting centered around the customs house at the bridge as the rebels apparently were intent on wiping out the remaining junta troops, they said.

“The KNU opened the charge first, the junta troops fought back,” a Thai soldier who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity told RFA.

Several days ago, the junta announced “Operation Aung Zeya,” aimed at retaking Myawaddy, a key city on a major trading route with Thailand.

As the sun rose Saturday morning, the Myanmar Air Force deployed several sorties of Y-12, MiG-29 and MI-35 attack helicopters amid periodic exchanges of gunfire. Some residents at the bridge watched the planes with binoculars as a few strayed rifle bullets whistled by, prompting them to duck.

Smoke billowed into the sky following each artillery shell and bomb explosion.  

The casualties on both Karen and junta soldiers as well as civilians were not immediately known

An ambulance was seen driving in and out of the neighborhood near Thailand’s Yepu Hill that overlooks the casinos in Myawaddy, while several hundred people living near the river were moved by truck to a livestock ranch for safety.

Thailand’s foreign ministry said it was closely monitoring the situation with Thai security agencies on the ground on high alert.

“Thailand has been and will continue to provide further humanitarian assistance if necessary and will do our utmost to ensure the situation along the Thai-Myanmar border area returns to normalcy,” Nikorndej Balankura, the ministry spokesman said in a statement.


Radio Free Asia’s mission is to provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press. Content used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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