A further 200 people are estimated to have been displaced after military jets led a long-anticipated aerial attack on the region around the Lay Kay Kaw peace village just hours before Christmas Eve.
At midnight, Tatmadaw ground troops opened fire on residential buildings with heavy artillery as part of a two-pronged assault on the peace park, located in Kayin State’s Dooplaya district.
Three days before the bombings, the KNU had called on the UN to urgently implement a no-fly zone over Lay Kay Kaw, which has seen intense fighting since troops invaded the KNU 6 Brigade territory ten days ago.
“Two jets dropped bombs near Lay Kay Kaw and people from our side returned fire at them,” said one refugee. “There was no more shootings this morning… we had been told that there would be no more fighting for three days because of Christmas, but they fired at night regardless.”
Despite these claims, the Karen Information Center this morning announced that fighting has once again broken out at Kaw Nwal village, in nearby Kawkareik township.
Despite simultaneously launching ground and air attacks on Lat Nat Gyi Kone village, which lies near to Lay Kay Kaw, the KNLA reported that none of its troops had been injured, a spokesperson of Lay Kay Kaw told DVB.
233 residents from Hpa Loo and Min Lat Pan villages were forced to flee across the border to seek refuge in Thailand, according to the Thai Border Guard Force. Villagers from Min Lat Pan were reported to have anticipated the bombings and fled before jets launched their sortie, yet were forced to wait at the Burmese side of the border until Thai authorities let them enter after midnight. Civilian casualty numbers and the damage caused to residential areas are yet unknown.
Around 10,000 people from villages surrounding Lay Kay Kaw have so far sought refuge at camps on both the Thai and Burmese side of the border since the Dec. 15 invasion. 4,000 refugees that have managed to cross to the Thai side will be relocated to a temporary IDP camp in Photphara on Dec. 25, Thai authorities said.
Despite the attacks, one resident of Myawaddy told DVB that gambling dens in the city remained open last night, with some playing raucous Christmas music over loudspeakers.