Ethnic Karen guerrillas said they caught a Myanmar army base on Tuesday near the border with Thailand, signifying a morale-boosting action for those facing the military’s takeover of the country’s civilian government February.
Myanmar’s military staged airstrikes many hours later on villages in the region controlled by the Karen forces, said a guerrilla spokesman, a superior Thai official, and a welfare worker.
A spokesperson for the Karen National Union, the minority’s guiding political group, seeking greater freedom from the central administration in Myanmar (also known as Burma), said its armed wing stormed the base at 5 a.m. and burned it down just before dawn.
The KNU’s head of foreign affairs, Padoh Saw Taw Nee, said in a text message, fatalities were not yet known. There was no immediate comment from Myanmar’s military forces.
The KNU, which regulates territory in eastern Myanmar near the Thai border, is a close associate of the boycott movement against the military takeover that removed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Its armed wing is known as the Karen National Liberation Army.
Video shot from the Thai side of the border revealed flames rising from the government position on the banks of the Salween River between the sound of heavy gunfire. The river seals the border with Thailand.
The Karen Information Center, an online news site, quoted an anonymous villager on the Thai side of the river saying he saw seven military soldiers trying to escape the camp, which is opposite Thailand’s Mae Sam Laep village.
Padoh Man Man of the KNLA’s 5th Brigade, which started the morning’s attack, said Myanmar’s military carried out airstrikes in the late afternoon. However, he did not know how many fatalities there were. He described the air raids to The Associated Press as a “cruel war crime” and called for the international community to urge the junta to stop them.
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