Thai hospital near Myanmar border treats dozens injured in Kayin fighting

Thai prime minister, meanwhile, establishes a high-level committee to deal with border crisis.
Nontarat Phaicharoen and Ruj Chuenban
Mae Sot, Thailand, and Bangkok
Thai hospital near Myanmar border treats dozens injured in Kayin fighting A Thai military armored vehicle takes position along the Moei river under the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot, April 20, 2024.
Warangkana Wanichachewa/AP

A Thai border hospital received nearly 40 injured people for treatment after a battle between Burmese junta soldiers and rebel forces in Kayin state in neighboring Myanmar, officials in Thailand said Monday.

As the unrest in Myanmar threatens to spill over into neighboring countries, the Thai prime minister, meanwhile, has established a high-level committee to manage the situation, officials in Bangkok said, amid growing concerns about the conflict’s potential impact on Thailand through irregular migration, border clashes, and disrupted trade.

In the Thai border town of Mae Sot, at least 38 people injured in the fighting on the Myanmar side of the frontier were admitted to a local hospital, Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said. 

“We treat them according to their conditions, mostly involving surgery,” he said during a news conference at Mae Sot General Hospital on Monday. 

Mae Sot, in Tak province, is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees.

“There were 22 people admitted on Saturday. Another 16 gradually came on Sunday.”

Cholnan declined to disclose how many junta troops and rebel soldiers were included among the injured.

“We do not discriminate which group they are,” he said, adding that foreign nationals would be referred to relevant security agencies following their treatment.

The armed branch of the Karen National Union, called the Karen National Liberation Army, and its allies captured junta Infantry Battalion 275 in Myawaddy, a Burmese town that shares a border with Mae Sot, on April 10. 

After rebel forces intercepted a junta convoy and injured over 100 soldiers on its way to recapture Myawaddy on Thursday, Mi-35 helicopters bombed the town in retaliation on Saturday around 3 a.m. 

Gunfire between junta troops and rebel forces and airstrikes could be heard late into late Sunday morning, Thai soldiers and Mae Sot residents told Radio Free Asia (RFA), a news organization affiliated with BenarNews. 

High-level body formed

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s new committee, chaired by Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, the deputy prime minister who serves as foreign affairs minister, is tasked with focusing on addressing challenges arising from the conflict across the border, including security, economic and social aspects, according to an order from the PM.

“Currently, the unrest in Myanmar tends to escalate, which may affect Thailand in many dimensions, including security, economy, and society, especially the problem of irregular migration, border clashes and disrupted border trade,” the order stated. 

“[T]o ensure that the government’s policy implementation in diplomatic, security, economic and public communication aspects, as well as the management of the Thai-Myanmar border situation, proceeds smoothly and efficiently and achieves the set goals concretely.” 

22 TH-MN-border2.jpg
People cross the Moei river as they flee Myawaddy township in Myanmar to enter Mae Sot town in Thailand, April 20, 2024. [Warangkana Wanichachewa/AP]

Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew was visiting the border region to monitor displaced Myanmar nationals and to encourage personnel at Mae Sot Hospital. 

On Monday in Mae Sot, the minister noted that in the past two to three days, 82 people had been treated and many remained hospitalized after suffering injuries during clashes across the Moei river, adding 29 had undergone surgery and three more were waiting.

The Tak Provincial Public Health Office revealed that the total number of people who fled Myanmar and sought medical treatment was 113 – 89 in Mae Sot, 13 in the Umphang district and others elsewhere.


Battles between rebel groups and government troops began after the Feb. 1, 2021, Myanmar military coup ousting President Win Myint and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Amid escalating tensions in late March, the Thai government launched the Humanitarian Assistance Corridor project for Myanmar citizens affected by the fighting in their country, delivering 4,000 relief bags containing rice, dried food and other essential supplies for about 20,000 people in Kayin State.

Since then, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the Karen National Union (KNU), and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) announced they had taken control of Myawaddy town on April 11, prompting some Myanmar nationals to cross the border into Thailand to flee the conflict. 

The most recent intense fighting began at 3 a.m. Saturday, according to Thai military and local villagers. 

Chayaphon Satondee, spokesman for the Thai House Committee on Military Affairs, said his committee prioritizes assisting and protecting Thai citizens residing in combat areas and near the border. 

“During this period, we may need to monitor the situation’s progress with relevant agencies, coordinate information to report to the meeting, and may need to call relevant agencies to clarify the situation, operational procedures, and assistance to Thai citizens living near the combat areas,” Chayaphon said. 

Meanwhile, since the rebel capture of Battalion 275, about 200 junta troops have been stranded at a customs compound near the border’s Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 2, about 10 km (six miles) north of Mae Sot.

RFA could not confirm if these troops were among those admitted to Mae Sot’s hospital. 

Following Saturday’s and Sunday’s battles, about 3,000 people were evacuated and several hundred refugees were taken to Rujira ranch a few kilometers north of Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 2, according to Thai officials. 

The evacuees were predominantly Burmese, said Thai soldiers, in addition to some Thai nationals working in Myanmar. Thai authorities provided refugees with food and medical services.

As of Monday, about 2,000 displaced people have returned since fighting calmed in Myawaddy, the Bangkok Post reported on Monday, adding that Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge No. 1, which is used for immigration, remains open. 

The newspaper cited a Thai military officer as saying that negotiations between the junta and the Karen rebel force and its allies have begun.

Pimuk Rakkanam for RFA contributed to this report from Mae Sot, Thailand.


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