People from Myanmar Flee into Thailand after Clashes in Key Border Town

Thai soldiers and members of the media take cover near the 2nd Thailand-Myanmar Friendship Bridge during fighting on the Myanmar side between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Myanmar's troops, which continues near the Thailand-Myanmar border, in Mae Sot, Tak Province,  Thailand, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Thai soldiers and members of the media take cover near the 2nd Thailand-Myanmar Friendship Bridge during fighting on the Myanmar side between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Myanmar's troops, which continues near the Thailand-Myanmar border, in Mae Sot, Tak Province, Thailand, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
TT

People from Myanmar Flee into Thailand after Clashes in Key Border Town

Thai soldiers and members of the media take cover near the 2nd Thailand-Myanmar Friendship Bridge during fighting on the Myanmar side between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Myanmar's troops, which continues near the Thailand-Myanmar border, in Mae Sot, Tak Province,  Thailand, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Thai soldiers and members of the media take cover near the 2nd Thailand-Myanmar Friendship Bridge during fighting on the Myanmar side between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Myanmar's troops, which continues near the Thailand-Myanmar border, in Mae Sot, Tak Province, Thailand, April 20, 2024. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

About 1,300 people have fled from eastern Myanmar into Thailand, officials said Saturday, as fresh fighting erupted at a border town that has recently been captured by ethnic guerillas.
Fighters from the Karen ethnic minority last week captured the last of the Myanmar army’s outposts in and around Myawaddy, which is connected to Thailand by two bridges across the Moei River, The Associated Press said.
The latest clashes were triggered in the morning when the Karen guerillas launched an attack against Myanmar troops who were hiding near the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, a major crossing point for trade with Thailand, said police chief Pittayakorn Phetcharat in Thailand's Mae Sot district. He estimated about 1,300 people fled into Thailand.
Thai officials reported people had started crossing since Friday following clashes in several areas of Myawaddy.
The fall of Myawaddy is a major setback for the military that seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021. Myanmar’s once-mighty armed forces have suffered a series of unprecedented defeats since last October, losing swathes of territory including border posts to both ethnic fighters, who have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades, and pro-democracy guerrilla units that took up arms after the military takeover.
The clashes, involving drone attacks from the Karen forces and airstrikes by the Myanmar military, had subsided by noon Saturday compared to the morning, but Mae Sot police chief Pittayakorn Phetcharat said he could still hear sporadic gunshots. He said Thai authorities would move people fleeing into a safer area.
Footage from the Thai border showed Thai soldiers maintaining guard near the bridge with sounds of explosions and gunshots in the background. People with children walked across the bridge with their belongings and were received by Thai officials on the river bank. Several are seen taking shelter in buildings along the river bank on the Myanmar side.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin wrote on the social media platform X on Saturday that he was closely monitoring the situation at the border.
“I do not desire to see any such clashes have any impact on the territorial integrity of Thailand and we are ready to protect our borders and the safety of our people. At the same time, we are also ready to provide humanitarian assistance if necessary,” he wrote.
In March, Thailand delivered its first batch of humanitarian assistance to Myanmar for about 20,000 displaced people.
Nikorndej Balangura, a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Friday that Thailand is currently working to expand its aid initiative.



Stockholm Accuses Iran of Using Criminals in Sweden to Target Israel

A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
TT

Stockholm Accuses Iran of Using Criminals in Sweden to Target Israel

A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo

Sweden's domestic security agency on Thursday accused Iran of using established criminal networks in Sweden as a proxy to target Israeli or Jewish interests in the Scandinavian country.
The accusations were raised at a news conference by Daniel Stenling, the head of the SAPO agency's counterespionage unit, following a series of events earlier this year.
In late January, the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm was sealed off after what was then described as “a dangerous object” was found on the grounds of the diplomatic mission in an eastern Stockholm neighborhood. Swedish media said the object was a hand grenade.
The embassy was not evacuated and the object was eventually destroyed. No arrests were made and authorities did not say what was found. On May 17, gunshots were heard near the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm and the area was cordoned off. No one was arrested.
According to The Associated Press, Stenling said, without offering specifics or evidence to back up his assertion, that the agency "can establish that criminal networks in Sweden are used as a proxy by Iran.”
“It is very much about planning and attempts to carry out attacks against Israeli and Jewish interests, goals and activities in Sweden," he said and added that the agency sees "connections between criminal individuals in the criminal networks and individuals who are connected to the Iranian security services.”
Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer and Hampus Nygårds, deputy head of the Swedish police's National Operations Department, were also at the online news conference with Stenling.
“We see this connection between the Iranian intelligence services, the security services and precisely criminals in the criminal networks in Sweden," Stenling said. “We see that connection and it also means that we need to work much more internationally to get to the crimes and be able to prevent them.”
Stenling and the others made no mention of the recent incidents connected to the Israel Embassy and stopped short of naming any criminal groups or suspects.
Sweden has grappled with gang violence for years and criminal gangs often recruit teenagers in socially disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods to carry out hits.
By May 15, police have recorded 85 shootings so far this year, including 12 fatal shootings. Last year, 53 people were killed and 109 were wounded in a total of 363 shootings.