Junta carries out 125 air strikes in one week on Karen State

​Myanmar resistance forces report data. Burmese military apologises to Thailand after incursion into airspace. Meanwhile, the number of refugees rises and arrests of Burmese migrants crossing the border through traffickers continue.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Myanmar's coup junta conducted 125 air strikes in five days to defend its strategic outpost in Karen (or Kayin) State on the border with Thailand, where more and more refugees are seeking refuge from the wa, accordin to the independent news website The Irrawaddy after last week's clashes encroached on Thai airspace. 

On 1 February last year, the Myanmar army ousted the previous government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and started a civil conflict. Several resistance groups operate in Karen State and on 26 June they attacked the Ukayit Hta outpost near the village of Waw Lay.

The fighting continued for a week and according to the Cobra Column, a division of the anti-golpe forces, the junta's military conducted 125 attacks between 27 June and 1 July, forcing hundreds of civilians (at least 300 according to The Irrawaddy, while the Bangkok Post lowers the figure to a hundred) to flee to Thailand across the Moei River that separates the two countries.

On those days, Burmese planes crossed into Thai airspace terrorising the civilian population, which immediately took refuge in air-raid bunkers, and causing the suspension of classes in two schools along the border. The incident occurred over Pop Phra district in Tak province and Thai media confirmed the killing of several civilians hit by Burmese army bombs.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha claimed that the incident was not a problem. Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai yesterday said Myanmar would send a formal letter of apology for the air raid, confident that the event would not be repeated in the future. Under an agreement between the two countries, if artillery shells fall on Thai soil, Bangkok will first send warning signals and only return fire if there is a direct threat to its own population.

In the meantime, the number of Burmese refugees continues to rise: while the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) since the coup has risen to almost 700,000, the number of people who have crossed the border since February 2021 is around 60,000, according to figures from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Thailand currently hosts more than 91,000 refugees, about half of whom are Christians.

Despite the presence of nine UN refugee camps along the border, many migrants rely on human traffickers. Only last week, Thai security forces arrested 43 Burmese refugees and 7 traffickers who were trying to transport the victims hidden in trucks to Malaysia, where they were promised they would find work.