Fresh violence in Myanmar; over 5,000 enter Mizoram seeking asylum

The Chin community members share ethnic ties with the Mizos

Myanmar violence (File) A screen grab from a social media video released November 9, 2023 shows burning buildings in the ground in a military outpost seized by Myanmar's opposition group National Unity Government in a location given as Kalay, Myanmar | Reuters

Over 5,000 Myanmar nationals entered Indian borders and reached Mizoram till Tuesday, seeking asylum, following fresh violence in Myanmar. An intense gunfight in Myanmar’s Chin state led to the recent influx of asylum seekers.

Lalbiakthanga Khiangte, Inspector General of Police, Mizoram told ANI that more than 5,000 people have taken refuge in two Mizoram villages along the Myanmar border. He added many have suffered injuries. “As many as about 20 are injured. Eight of them are taken to Aizawl for better medical treatment and the rest are being treated in Champhai, "Khiangte added. The senior police officer said one of the injured succumbed on Monday evening.

ANI reported local Mizo non-governmental organisations are taking care of injured persons. According to reports, many Myanmar nationals got caught in the crossfire and suffered injuries while crossing the border on Monday.

James Lalrinchhana, the deputy commissioner (DC) of Champhai district which shares a border with Myanmar's Chin state, told PTI that an intense gunfight broke out between Myanmar's ruling junta-backed forces and militia group People's Defence Force (PDF) on Sunday evening.

The fighting started after the PDF attacked two military bases at Khawmawi and Rihkhawdar in Chin state near the Indian border, he said, adding that the fighting continued till Monday.

Lalrinchhana said people from Khawmawi, Rihkhawdar and the neighbouring villages in Chin crossed over to India and took shelter in Zokhawthar in Champhai district due to the gunfight. “The Myanmar military base at Rihkhawdar was taken over by the militia in the early hours of Monday, and the base at Khawmawi was also taken over by them in the afternoon,” he said. In retaliation, the Myanmar army launched airstrikes on Khawimawi and Rihkhawdar villages on Monday, Lalrinchhana added.

At least 17 people injured in the gunfight were brought to Champhai for treatment, Lalrinchhana said. A 51-year-old civilian from Myanmar who was already living in Zokhawthar died when the gunfight was happening on the other side of the border, the DC said. Local sources said he was allegedly hit by a stray bullet from across the border.

Zokhawthar Village Council president Lalmuanpuia told PTI that five personnel of the Chin National Army (CNA), which was a part of the PDF, were killed in the gunfight.

Lalmuanpuia said that more than 6,000 people from Myanmar were already living in Zokhawthar before the gunfight started. Six districts of the state -- Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual -- share a 510-km-long border with Myanmar's Chin state.

The first influx from the neighbouring country happened in February 2021 when the junta seized power. Since then, thousands of people from Myanmar have taken shelter in the northeastern state.

According to the state Home Department, 31,364 Myanmar nationals are currently living in different parts of the state. The majority of them live in relief camps, while others are accommodated by their local relatives and some live in rented houses.

The Myanmar nationals taking shelter in Mizoram are from the Chin community, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos.

-with agency inputs.


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