Myanmar govt targets militia over Covid-riddled border casinos
Myanmar’s government is demanding the resignation of a Border Guard Force (BFG) leader it said controls illegal casinos along the Thai-Myanmar border that are linked with Covid-19 outbreaks in both countries.
Local media report that hundreds more Thais working in a casino in the border town of Myawaddy, Karen state are expected to return to Thailand this week, as infections among returnees rise. Late last week, 17 Thais tested positive for Covid-19 after crossing back over the border from Myawaddy to Mae Sot in Tak province.
A news source in Tak said the Myanmar government has ordered the resignation of three commanders of the BGF, an armed group backed by the country’s military.
Among them is Karen-BGF leader Colonel Saw Chit Thu, who reportedly controls China-backed casinos in Myawaddy Township’s new gambling hub, Shwe Kokko.
“The three commanders are accused of cooperating with foreigners in opening casinos along the Thai-Myanmar border without permission from the government,” said the source. “These casinos are believed to have spread the virus among guests and workers, which include Thai, Myanmar and Chinese nationals, and have caused serious damage to the country.”
Since 2015, Chinese businesspeople have poured investment into Shwe Kokko. The controversial gambling hub now reportedly hosts more than 10 casinos and several thousand Chinese residents.
As of January 9, Myanmar had reported a total of 130,049 cases of Covid-19 and 2,826 deaths.