Injured sent to Thai border hospital following Myanmar clash

Civilians, junta troops and rebel forces are among those seeking care, Thai officials said.
By Pimuk Rakkanam for RFA and RFA Burmese
2024.04.22
Mae Sot, Thailand
Injured sent to Thai border hospital following Myanmar clash Refugees from Myawaddy fleeing their homes on April 20, 2024.
Citizen journalist

Updated April 22, 2024, 5:04 p.m. ET

A Thai border hospital received nearly 40 injured people for treatment after a battle in neighboring Myanmar, according to Thai officials on Monday.

At least 38 were admitted in total, Thai public health minister Cholnan Srikaew said during a news conference at Mae Sot General Hospital on Monday. 

Mae Sot is a Thai city that shares a border with Myanmar to the west. It is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees.

“We treat them according to their conditions, mostly involving surgery,” he said. “There were 22 people admitted on Saturday. Another 16 gradually came on Sunday.”

Cholnan declined to disclose how many junta troops and rebel soldiers were included among the injured.

“We do not discriminate which group they are,” he said, adding that foreign nationals would be referred to relevant security agencies following their treatment.

Weekend fighting

The armed branch of the Karen National Union, called the Karen National Liberation Army, and its allies captured junta Infantry Battalion 275 in Myawaddy, a Burmese town that shares a border with Mae Sot, on April 10. 

After rebel forces intercepted a junta convoy and injured over 100 soldiers on its way to recapture Myawaddy on Thursday, junta helicopters bombed the town in retaliation on Saturday around 3 a.m. 

Gunfire between junta troops and rebel forces and airstrikes could be heard late into late Sunday morning, Thai soldiers and Mae Sot residents told Radio Free Asia.  

Since the rebel capture of Battalion 275, about 200 junta troops have been stranded at a customs compound near the border’s Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 2, roughly 10 km (six miles) north of Mae Sot.

RFA couldn’t confirm if these troops were among those admitted to Mae Sot’s hospital. 

Following Saturday and Sunday’s battles, about 3,000 people were evacuated and several hundred refugees were taken to Rujira ranch a few kilometers north of Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 2, according to Thai officials. 

The evacuees were predominantly from Myanmar, said Thai soldiers, in addition to some Thai nationals working in Myanmar. Thai authorities provided refugees with food and medical services.

Thailand’s concerns 

Thailand’s prime minister, meanwhile, has established a high-level committee to manage the situation, officials in Bangkok said on Monday. 

The committee was formed amid growing concerns about the conflict’s potential impact on Thailand through irregular migration, border clashes, and disrupted trade, according to BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news organization.

“Currently, the unrest in Myanmar tends to escalate, which may affect Thailand in many dimensions, including security, economy, and society, especially the problem of irregular migration, border clashes and disrupted border trade,” a government order stated. 

Amid escalating tensions in late March, the Thai government launched the Humanitarian Assistance Corridor project for Myanmar citizens affected by the fighting, delivering 4,000 relief bags containing rice, dried food and other essential supplies for about 20,000 people in Kayin state.

As of Monday, about 2,000 displaced people have crossed back into Myanmar since fighting calmed in Myawaddy, the Bangkok Post reported on Monday, adding that Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 1, which is used for immigration, remains open. 

The newspaper cited a Thai military officer as saying that negotiations between the junta and the Karen rebel force and its allies have begun. 

Padoh Saw Taw Nee, a Karen National Union spokesperson, told RFA that the group is reviewing the military and public welfare situation since fighting has calmed.

Translated by Kiana Duncan. Edited by Taejun Kang and Mike Firn.

Updated to add details on newly formed Thai government committee.

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