Myanmar warned as mortar shell lands in Thailand’s Mae Sot, where Karen people seek shelter

The Thai military lodged a protest note with the Myanmar government, via the local Thai-Myanmar Border Committee (TBC) yesterday (Thursday), over the landing of a mortar-type shell on Thai soil in Mae Sot district of the western province of Tak.

The shell, which is believed to be a mortar round, landed in a sugarcane plantation in a Thai village in Mae Tao sub-district, causing a fire which was eventually extinguished by a fire crew.

In the protest note, the Naresuan Task Force, which is responsible for maintaining security along the western border with Myanmar in Tak province, asked Myanmar forces to exercise caution in the use of such weapons, with a warning that the Thai military may retaliate if territorial sovereignty is breached.

Meanwhile, Thai security officials have warned Thai villagers to stay away from the border area for their own safety.

Myanmar government troops have been engaged in fierce fighting with the Karen National Union rebels in the Myawaddy township area, as part of their dry season offensive, aimed at dislodging the rebels from their border sanctuaries. The fighting has, so far, forced thousands of Karen people to flee across the Moei River, the natural demarcation line, into Thai territory in Mae Sot district, including about 700 yesterday alone.

Among the evacuees yesterday, mostly women and children, was one injured person who was provided with first aid treatment by a Thai official. Numerous Thai villagers, living near the border, have also relocated deeper inland for their safety.

Army spokesman Gen Santipong Thammapiya said today (Friday) the fighting has stopped and that the ethnic group is gradually returning to their hometown.


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