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By Linda Khoo Hui Li
BANGKOK, April 30 -- With International media reporting thousands of villagers in border areas fleeing Myanmar following clashes between Myanmar military and Karen rebels, Thailand said it will continue providing humanitarian and medical support for them.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tanee Sangrat said at present 2,267 Myanmar citizens sheltered at Mae Hong Son province, Thailand since late afternoon yesterday.
“We will continue providing humanitarian assistance according to our humanitarian principles and according to their immediate needs,” he said at a press conference here today.
On Tuesday at 5 am (local time), the Karen National Union (KNU) and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) launched attacks on a Myanmar military outpost on the opposite side of Mae Sam Laep Village in Sop Moei District, Mae Hong Son Province.
The Myanmar military responded with air strikes in several areas near the Thai border.
Media reports said it was some of the most intense clashes since a military coup on Feb 1 with KNU sources saying the troops later recaptured the Burmese military camp with air strikes. KNU is Myanmar's oldest rebel force.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted the Karen Peace Support Network saying thousands of villagers were taking shelter on the Myanmar side of the Salween and ready to flee to Thailand if the fighting escalates.
Tanee said Thai agencies have been preparing for the influxes based on their past experience and have been closely monitoring the situation along the border.
“The provincial administrations and authorities along our border with Myanmar have updated their existing operating procedures to ensure smooth coordination.
“We have prepared humanitarian areas and logistic supports as well as COVID-19 prevention measures put in place along the border for new arrivals,” he said.
Myanmar has been going through upheaval since armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing on Feb 1 ousted an elected government led by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi, with security forces killing at least 750 anti-coup protesters since then.