At least 80 junta soldiers were killed during the latest shootouts between regime troops and Karenni civilian resistance fighters in Demoso, Kayah State, leading to air strikes on Monday evening.
The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), a new group of civilian fighters including the existing state-based ethnic armed groups in Kayah State, said the shootouts happened when some 150 junta troops from Loikaw, the state capital, advanced into Demoso at around 1pm on Monday.
A civilian resistance fighter said one of their comrades and six others were injured on Monday which lasted into the evening.
“By 5pm on Monday, more than 80 soldiers were confirmed dead and, in retaliation, the military used jet fighters, helicopters and launched artillery into Demoso,” he said.
A female resistance fighter said: “Our forces gathered more than 40 dead junta soldiers on [Tuesday] morning and seized some 20 to 30 guns and magazines.”
The junta soldiers fired at the civilian sentries at the entrance of the village and then resistance forces surrounded them and inflicted heavy casualties. Military air support came soon after the shooting, she said.
They said the air raid on Dawt Ngan Kha at around 5pm, and a prolonged artillery barrage lasted until night time. Military drones dropped at least six bombs.
Fighting between regime soldiers and the Karenni resistance broke out in Demoso on May 21 and has since spread beyond.
Last week, the Karenni People’s Defense Force (KPDF) destroyed police stations in Demoso Township and Shan State’s Pekon Township and Moebyel town and killed over 40 junta troops and police. At least eight resistance fighters and 23 civilians were killed by junta forces in 10 days.
Due to fighting, some 100,000 residents have fled their homes. Some took shelter in religious buildings while most are staying in the hills and jungles, where they lack food and shelter.
A relief worker said the displaced need food, tarpaulin for shelter, equipment for sanitation and medicine as the rainy season starts. Some have had flu and diarrhea and need medicine, said the relief worker.
However, those helping civilians are at risk of being killed and arrested by junta forces. Two villagers, who went back to their village to gather food, were shot dead on May 27, while three other volunteers helping the displaced were detained the next day, the relief worker said.
Artillery firing continued in Demoso and Loikaw on Tuesday. Junta forces also restricting movement in Loikaw, where residents say they could be arrested at any time.
Telecommunications and internet is often cut and two bridges in Hpruso Township on the Loikaw-Demoso-Bawlakhe highway were destroyed on May 30.
The military and resistance accuse each other of the destroying the bridges.
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