Airstrikes by Burma military jets in the Northern Karen State of Mutraw (Papun) district forced more than 10,000 villagers from their homes and as many as 3,000 of them cross the border for their safety into Thailand.
The Karen Peace Support Network said in a media statement the Burma military’s nighttime bombings raids followed helicopter surveillance flights around 3.30pm, Saturday 27 March.
KPSN said the military jets “dropped nine bombs and fired automatic guns from the aircraft from between 7.30pm until midnight killing three villagers, badly wounding seven and destroying homes.”
The Karen Women Organization (KWO) put out a statement condemning the escalating Burma army attack on civilians calling for immediate intervention from the international community.
The KWO said the military’s killing spree did not stop at Day Bu No as bombing continued on March 28 in five areas of Luthaw Township driving more than 10,000 villagers out of their homes and into jungle hideouts. More than 3,000 displaced villagers from Mae Nu Hta, Kho Kay and Ei Tu Hta camps, crossed the Salween River into Thailand’s Mae Hong Song Province seeking safety. The Salween River separates Thailand and Burma.
The recent airstrikes are thought to be retaliation after the Burma Army’s Thi Mu Hta frontline base camp located on the banks of the Salween River was taken by the Karen National Union’s armed wing, the KNLA’s 5th Brigade. The KNLA killed 10 Burma Army soldiers and took another eight prisoner.
Naw K’Nyaw Paw, general secretary of the KWO told Karen News she is concerned villagers who fled to the Thai side are currently not able to get access to aid.
“Right now, no one can get to the villagers to provide them with assistance. No one has the permission from authorities to be able to do that at the moment.”
Travel and access is restricted due to Covid-19 measures put in place by officials since the outbreak of the pandemic, especially border crossing.
According to local Thai-Karen community sources, negotiations to get official permission to gain acess to the displaced people to allow aid to be given are taking place.
Naw K’Nyaw Paw said KWO wants International Non-Government Organizations who are working along the Thai Burma border such as The Border Consortium and others to negotiate with Thai officials for humanitarian aid to be given to people seeking safety on Thai side of the border.
Media reports in early March 2021, said Thai officials had been making preparations to seven designated places along the border to temporary house arrivals from Burma that would include health screenings and quarantine precautions to prevent and control the potential risk of Covid outbreaks.
Naw K’Nyaw Paw said local villagers who are hiding in jungle hideouts are staying in the makeshift bomb shelters as they fear more Burma military airstrikes.