Myanmar rebels split on confronting junta

This Thai village is on heightened alert after airstrikes just over the border in Myanmar forced thousands to flee and raised the fear of armed clashes.

Following an escalation in the military's crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

Jumi, who runs a restaurant in Thailand's northern Mae Hong Son province, says if something happens, they were told to grab their bags and escape.

"There have been drills by the authorities and assistant village chief, teaching the villagers what they should do."

Fighting has flared in recent days between the army and rebel forces in the east and north.

Myanmar has two dozen or so ethnic armed factions, and they control vast swathes of the country.

Most agreed ceasefires in recent years but now many anti-coup protesters want them to join forces and take on the ruling junta.

Yawd Serk is a Myanmar rebel general from a group called the Restoration Council of Shan State.

At his base in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, he agrees with the protesters that the groups must form a federal army.

"If the Ethnic Armed Groups ideology is to protect their own people and the country, they should no longer be able to just stand by and do nothing. We now have one common enemy, we need to join hands and work together."

Other groups are reluctant. Back in Mae Hong Son, Khu Oo Reh of the Karenni National Progressive Party says the Myanmar military could use the involvement of rebel groups to their advantage.

It might encourage soldiers and police to more violence, he says, and they could accuse us of being behind it.

Thailand has been accused of helping the Myanmar military - on Monday (March 29) it denied turning back thousands of refugees.

And in early March, the Thai army denied sending sacks of rice to Myanmar military units across the border after local reports surfaced.