In the crisis-ridden country of Myanmar, the ruling military junta is coming under increasing pressure. Fierce fighting has been raging in the town of Myawaddy on the border with Thailand since Tuesday evening, local media and eyewitnesses unanimously report. A revolutionary alliance led by the armed wing of the KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) had already inflicted heavy losses on the military in the area at the end of last week. Now rebels apparently attacked army positions again.

“KNLA rebels and forces from their alliance have entered the city and taken control of all important government offices,” Saw Yoon Ngal, a resident of Myawaddy, told the German Press Agency. There was heavy fighting and the junta responded with air strikes. Several buildings in the important trading city went up in flames. Local media confirmed this information. “The death toll is not yet known,” emphasized Ngal.

Myawaddy is considered one of the most important trading posts between the former Burma and neighboring Thailand. Many residents are fleeing and crossing a river to reach Mae Sot in Thailand. According to eyewitnesses, the bridges over the river are now controlled by the KNLA. Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara said his country is ready to accept 100,000 refugees from Myanmar, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.

Hundreds of soldiers surrender

The KNLA is the armed wing of the Karen National Union, the oldest insurgent group in the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar. It has been fighting for freedom for more than 70 years and has been providing protection to many internally displaced people since the coup in February 2021.

At the end of last week, around 600 soldiers and their relatives had reportedly surrendered to the KNLA and its allies. At the weekend, Myanmar’s military government is said to have asked the government in Bangkok for permission to land a transport plane in Mae Sot to bring families of army members to safety. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Monday that the plane had unarmed civilians on board. There were no military personnel or weapons on the plane.

Since the coup in February 2021, Myanmar has descended into chaos and violence. The generals deposed Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi two years ago and have ruled with an iron fist ever since. Suu Kyi is in prison.