Fighting erupts in eastern Myanmar near Thai border

Some of the most intense fighting in Myanmar since the country’s military seized power in a coup on February 1 erupted in eastern Myanmar near the Thai border early on Tuesday, as ethnic minority Karen insurgents attacked an army outpost.

The clash came as the generals said they would “positively” consider suggestions from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which met at a special summit on Saturday. Leaders called for an end to the violence, and urged dialogue with the elected government that was overthrown.

The Karen National Union said its forces had captured an outpost of the Myanmar army close to the border with Thailand, after launching an attack just before dawn.

The camp had been occupied and burned down, the armed group’s head of foreign affairs, Saw Taw Nee, told Reuters news agency. He said there had been fighting in other places too, but did not elaborate.

People across the Salween River, which follows the border between the two countries, earlier reported hearing gunfire, while video posted on social media showed fires and smoke rising from the forested hills.

“There has been heavy fighting at the Myanmar army outpost opposite Mae Sam Laep,” a provincial official from the northwestern Thai town of Mae Hong Son told Reuters. “Our security officials are assessing the situation but so far there has been no report of impact on the Thai side.”

One person on the Thai side was mildly hurt, the official said.

Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, made no immediate comment.

Fighting in the area has escalated since the generals seized power in a February 1 coup and plunged Myanmar into turmoil. The military sees itself as the only institution that can unite the ethnically diverse country of 53 million.

“This is very concerning,” Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, who is in Bangkok, said of the latest escalation. “This is something we have seen going on since the February coup.”


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