Reports say Myanmar’s government forces have launched airstrikes on ethnic minority guerrillas in two areas of the country
BANGKOK – Myanmar government forces launched airstrikes on ethnic minority guerrillas in two areas of the country on Wednesday, local reports reported.
Both groups have formed alliances with the popular movement opposing the military junta that seized power in the country in February after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Nonviolent marches against the military government generally continue in many cities and towns, despite the use of lethal force by the security forces to stop them.
The Kachins and Karens have been fighting for more autonomy from the central government for decades and have their own well-armed and trained military units, whose aid the protest movement has sought to counter the government’s armed might.
Collar. Naw Bu, a spokesperson for Kachin, said fighting against junta forces intensified Wednesday, according to 74 Media, an online news service in Kachin state.
He said that since Tuesday the government has used heavy artillery and fighter jets to attack a Kachin position at the foot of Alaw Bum Mountain. The location had been a government outpost but was seized by the Kachins on 25 March.
Naw Bu said heavy fighting continued in the area for five days, causing most of the civilians to flee.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, clashes between the two sides have increased since mid-March, with nearly 50 armed clashes. He said both sides used mortars.
The details of the fighting in the Kachin and Karen areas could not be independently verified.
In eastern Myanmar, government planes continued to carry out airstrikes in Karen state on Wednesday, according to aid groups active in the area, the day after Karen guerillas invaded a military base on the banks of the Salween River that divides Myanmar. and Thailand.
Both the Karen Peace Support Network and the Free Burma Rangers confirmed a total of six air strikes involving jets and helicopters. They said there were no known victims, but the Peace Support Network said around 300 villagers fled across the border.
There were also air strikes on Tuesday, just hours after the Karen captured the riverside base.
The latest wave of air strikes has increased fears that more villagers will flee their homes in vulnerable areas, and many will likely attempt to cross into Thailand.
The fighting between the Karen and the Myanmar army has been intense since February.
Myanmar jets have bombed and strafed Karen villages since March 27, and its army has deployed new battalions in the area in possible preparation for a full-scale offensive.