08 November 2010

Thousands flee Burma border clash, as votes are counted

Thousands have fled across the Burmese border to escape clashes between troops and ethnic Karen rebels, a day after the first election in 20 years.

Thai officials said more than 10,000 people had fled the fierce fighting in and around the town of Myawaddy.

Tensions surrounding the poll spilled into violence on Monday in the town of Myawaddy, on the Thai border, in a clash between a Karen rebel faction and government troops.

Ethnic groups in Burma have been demanding - without success - greater regional autonomy from the majority Burman-led central government since independence from Britain in 1948. Many have suffered persecution at the hands of the government.

A splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, known as Brigade 5, briefly occupied a police station and polling booth on Sunday in a show of opposition to the government's plan to incorporate ethnic armies into a centrally-controlled border force.

In response, Burmese government troops gathered and clashes broke out early on Monday.--Full story at BBC News

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