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Heavy fighting in Myanmar’s Myawaddy forces closure of Thai border checkpoint

ANN/THE STAR – The Tak Immigration Checkpoint on the Thai-Myanmar border was closed on Saturday following heavy fighting in Myanmar.

Authorities in Myawaddy township, opposite Tak’s Mae Sot district, asked their Thai counterparts to temporarily close the border after Karen troops and members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighting against Myanmar’s military junta, raided a local government office and killed police officers in the early hours of Saturday.

Township authorities urged Thai officials to prevent Thai nationals and foreigners from crossing the border into Myanmar while fighting was underway.

Myanmar nationals crossing into Thailand in the morning for supplies were allowed to return normally although they will be prevented from entering Thailand, officials said.

An official at the Tak Immigration Checkpoint said the checkpoint’s closure was temporary.

Thai and foreign tourists planning to visit Myawaddy on Saturday were forced to cancel their trips.

More than 300 cargo trucks destined for Myawaddy remained parked on the Thai side of the border, near the Second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.

Myanmar authorities did not allow the trucks to cross the border following reports that resistance forces had planted explosives on the Myanmar side.

A Thai national working in Myanmar was among those injured in the morning fighting. The 55-year-old man, identified as Sittinon Muangsuk, was transported to Thailand for treatment.

Fighting continued later on Saturday. Gunshots from Myanmar could be heard on the Thai side of the border. Myanmar’s military also sent in helicopters and fighter jets to strafe PDF and Karen soldiers who had seized the government office in Myawaddy.

Combo photo shows people at the border checkpoint and smoke rising following the fight. PHOTO: THE STAR
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