2k people from Myanmar cross over to India as intense gunfight rock

Aizawl: Over 2,000 Myanmar nationals entered India through the international border in Mizoram over the last 24 hours after an intense gunfight in the neighbouring country’s Chin state, an official said 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.

Over 2,000 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, Lalrinchhana said.

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, he said.

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.

Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier news agency, having a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India.

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