Dozens of military airstrikes hit near Thai-Myanmar border, Karen human rights groups say

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At least 28 airstrikes hit near the Thai-Myanmar border yesterday, according to local human rights groups.

“Today, 18th May 2022, the military junta is conducting airstrikes close to the Thai border, in Thay Baw Boh village, Kaw T’Ree Township,” Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) shared from their Twitter page on Tuesday.

“First, a drone scouted the area. Starting at 12:20pm, junta jets dropped the bombs. Airstrikes are still ongoing.”

Since last year’s February 1 coup in Myanmar, the military have carried out a deadly crackdown on protesters and activists, igniting armed resistance throughout the country. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 1,848 people have been killed during the sweeping crackdown and thousands of others have been arrested or detained.

The Myanmar military has repeatedly rationalized the violence saying they are pursueing “terrorists”.

The junta has employed a deadly air campaign targeting mostly ethnic groups in rural parts of the country. However, experts say civilians are the main casualty of the air raids. The scorched earth campaign has displaced hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country, with tens of thousands intermittently fleeing to the Thai border to escape the violence.

The Karen rights group said the footage obtained from the Thai side of the border, appears to show air raids targeting a civilian area. KHRG added that the footage reveals a drone conducting reconnaissance over the village of Thay Baw Boh before deploying military jets to bomb the area.

“28 Burmese military airstrikes in Dooplaya, Karen State today,” wrote Zoya Phan, the campaign manager at Burma Campaign UK. “Indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas is a war crime. Time for the UK, EU, USA and international community to #SanctionAviationFuel and support referring Burma to ICC.”

Thai local news have also reported the airstrikes since yesterday, but our reporters were not able independently able to verify the attacks.

Earlier this month, Free Burma Rangers (FBR), an organization that offers humanitarian assistance from conflict zones, also documented a wave of air strikes in Karen State. 

“The Burma military has pounded Karen villages in the Lay Kay area of Thaton District, Karen State, from April 20 to present,” FBR said in a statement on another barrage of airstrikes in April. The group said on Friday that the air raids have forced huge numbers of people to shelter in caves.

“They are using fighter jets to bomb, rocket and strafe, destroying homes, and sending people into hiding,” the FBR statement said. “Burma Army ground troops shoot machine-guns and heavy mortars as well as fire artillery as the Burma Army wages a campaign of terror against the Karen people.”

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