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Myanmar rebels seize military base near Thai border

MYANMAR ethnic rebel group the Karen National Union (KNU) reported the capture of a military base close to the Thai border today as fighting in the east of the country intensified.

“We could hear from the other side, we could hear the bullets,” said Hkara, a long-time resident of Mae Sam Laep, on the Thai side of the border. 

“We saw five or six Burmese soldiers run down to the river and then we saw KNU shoot them, but it was very dark.”

The KNU has fought against the Myanmar military for decades and bitterly opposes the coup regime, which seized power on February 1.

The group agreed a ceasefire in 2012 and ended its struggle for autonomy, which began shortly after Myanmar won independence from Britain in 1948.

The KNU claims to be sheltering at least 2,000 anti-coup dissidents who have been forced to flee as the military junta wages a bloody crackdown.

According to monitoring groups, more than 700 people have been killed by the armed forces, although the military blames protesters for the violence.

Opposition forces have combined to form a “national unity government,” which they hope receives international recognition as it bids to restore democracy in Myanmar.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) has been criticised for giving too much legitimacy to the military coup leaders after it said it had reached a consensus with the junta over steps to end violence and the promotion of dialogue.

Protesters called for action against the junta to be stepped up today with a refusal to pay electricity bills and keeping children away from school.

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