Fighting flares between junta and rebels in Myanmar’s Karen state
Fighting has flared in recent days between Myanmar junta forces and rebels opposed to their rule, officials and locals said today, with reports that large numbers of civilians have fled the violence.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government was toppled in an army coup almost two years ago.
Long-established ethnic rebel groups, as well as dozens of "People's Defence Forces" (PDF), have emerged in opposition and clash frequently with the military.
The last few days have seen intense clashes in southeast Karen state, around Kyonedoe and the border town of Payathonzu.
"There were drone attacks by local PDFs at a military command near Kyonedoe town a few days ago," a military source told AFP.
"Nearby military released sporadic artillery fire at the PDF locations to warn them," the source said, without elaborating.
Residents of Kyonedoe, which has a population of around 5,000, said they endured a tit-for-tat battle as the rebels shot back.
"There was shooting the whole night. We dare not to stay. It was so frightening," said one resident, who requested anonymity.
"Thousands of residents have been fleeing the town as well as nearby villages," the resident added.
It comes as Karen armed forces attacked Payathonzu, around 180 km (110 miles) to the south, on the Thai border on Monday night.