Myanmar Fighting Displaces 10,000

Myanmar RefugeesThousands of Myanmar citizens have been forced to flee to neighboring Thailand due to fighting between ethnic rebels and government troops since Sunday, Thai officials have confirmed.

Col. Wannatip Wongwai of the Thai Third Army Region said around 10,000 people have fled Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The fighting between a renegade group of the junta-allied Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and government soldiers comes as candidates backed by the ruling military government are headed for victory in the November 7 elections considered by foreign observers as nothing more than a sham aimed to extend the 48-year martial rule in the Southeast Asian country.

The junta has 1,112 candidates for the 1,159 national and regional parliament seats up for grabs. Early results released on Monday showed around 40 candidates of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party already assured of victory.

Meanwhile, Thai military officials said the refugees would be returned to Myawaddy as soon as the situation in the region stabilizes. Reports said government troops have already forced the rebels out of some areas in the contested region. No casualties have been reported in the fighting, but at least 10 people have allegedly been wounded.