Armed Myanmar soldiers patrol a village in Maungdaw. File/AFP
Thousands of residents in Lay Kay Kaw, which is only about 20km (12.43 miles) from the Thai border, had already fled fighting in December around the town that has been a refuge for pro-democracy supporters since the army seized power last year.
A spokesman for the Karen National Union (KNU), which is Myanmar's oldest ethic rebel group, said the army appeared to be reinforcing the area after Sunday's clashes though he had not yet received reports of fresh fighting on Monday.
"They haven't retreated at all. They are sending more troops," said KNU spokesman Padoh Saw Taw Nee, adding the group's forces had killed 45 soldiers and lost two of its own fighters in Sunday's clashes. Public Voice Television, which is backed by a shadow government set up since the coup, said the rebels had detained a captain from the Myanmar army during the fighting.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Reuters could not independently confirm the claims and a spokesperson for the military did not answer calls seeking comment. Lay Kay Kaw has been largely under the control of the KNU in recent months, but the army has at times sought to reassert control and fighting broke out last December when troops tried to arrest people in the town. Sunday's clashes came after the KNU had tried to push back army troops who had entered one district, said Padoh Saw Taw Nee. In response, Myanmar's military conducted air strikes, the rebels and local media reports said. Residents in Mae Sot, a town on the Thai side of the border said they heard gunfire and what appeared to be explosions. In December, the KNU had called on the international community to establish a no-fly zone in the area to protect civilians.
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