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Some Myanmar Refugees who Fled Put into Trucks to be Sent Back Across the Frontier

INTERNATIONAL: Dozens of refugees from Myanmar who had been sheltering at a local Thai school were being put into three trucks on Sunday to be sent back across the frontier.

A senior Thai official said Thailand has sent over 600 Myanmar refugees who fled fighting between the military and ethnic rebels back across the border. Some of them said they were volunteering to go back.

Thai border officials crouching down as sounds of gunfire were heard in the Mae Sot district in Tak province on the Thai-Myanmar border.Fresh fighting broke out last week between the Karen National Union (KNU), Myanmar's oldest rebel force, and the military, forcing thousands from Myanmar's Karen state to flee.

Some crossed the narrow river between Myanmar and Thailand in boats while others waded through chest-high waters while holding children.

Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson, has urged Thailand not to rush refugees back to Myanmar. The Myanmar army denies targeting civilians.

The Aid Alliance Committee, a Thai-based Myanmar migrants group, has said about 1,000 displaced people were camping along the Myanmar border at various points waiting to cross into Thailand. Tak Provincial Governor Somchai Kitcharoenrungroj, said that 623 refugees had been sent back and 2,094 remained on the Thai side, adding that all would be returned if they were willing.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted a civilian government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 February, triggering protests and sporadic clashes in the countryside between anti-junta militia and the army.

PHOTO: MYANMAR REFUGEES SITTING ON BANK OF MOEI RIVER ON THAI SIDE LOOKING ACROSS TO MYANMAR SIDE, WHITE SMOKE RISING BEHIND MOUNTAINS ON MYANMAR SIDE, THAI AUTHORITIES CROUCHING ON PIER AMID SOUND OF GUNFIRE, MYANMAR REFUGEES WITH THEIR BELONGINGS STANDING ON ROADSIDE ON THAILAND SIDE, ARMED THAI RANGERS STANDING AT BORDER CHECKPOINT, REFUGEES GETTING ONTO TRUCK, SOUNDBTIE FROM REFUGEE, TRUCKS DRIVING TO CROSS OVER PIER


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