Rebel group withdraws troops from key town at Thai border

A rebel group from the country has withdrawn its troops from a town along the Thai border following a counter-offensive by soldiers of the ruling junta from whom the resistance fighters had wrested the key trading post this month, an official said.

The Karen National Union (KNU) made a “temporary retreat” from the town of Myawaddy, a spokesperson said, after the return of junta soldiers to the vital strategic area that is a conduit for annual foreign trade of more than US$1bil (RM4.77bil).

“KNLA troops will ... destroy the junta troops and their back-up troops who marched to Myawaddy,” said Saw Taw Nee, referring to the group’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, one of Myanmar’s oldest ethnic fighting forces.

He did not say what its next move would be, however.

Fighting had flared as recently as Saturday in Myawaddy, forcing 3,000 civilians to flee in a single day as rebels fought to flush out stranded government troops holed up at a border bridge crossing.

Thailand said the fighting had eased and it hoped to re-open its border crossing as trade had been hit.

It said most civilians had returned and 650 remained.

“The situation has improved significantly,” spokesperson Nikorndej Balankura told a briefing. “Nevertheless, we are closely monitoring the situation, which is highly uncertain and can change.”

Thailand has received reports that negotiations may be starting between rival groups on the Myanmar side, Nikorndej said, without elaborating.

He added that Thailand had proposed to Laos, the chair of Asean, that it could host a meeting seeking to end the Myanmar crisis.

The military faces its biggest challenge since first taking control of Myanmar in 1962, caught up in low-intensity conflicts and grappling to stabilise an economy that has crumbled since a 2021 coup ended a decade of tentative democracy and reform. — Reuters

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Karen National Union , rebel , Thai border


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