Five junta soldiers were killed during a shootout with civilian resistance forces in the Chin State capital Hakha on Monday evening.
At about 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Chinland Defense Force-Hakha fighters launched an offensive against more than 20 military soldiers near the Kyawboke security checkpoint on the Hakha-Matupi Highway in the southern part of the capital.
The clash lasted for about three hours. The civilian resistance fighters came under artillery fire from the headquarters of the military’s Battalion 266 in the town. No casualties were reported among the resistance fighters, but five junta soldiers were killed during the fighting.
A member of Chinland Defense Force-Hakha told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that they attacked the military troops as retribution for war crimes committed against civilians in Mindat, 265 km to the south in Chin State.
On Sunday, Chinland Defense Force-Hakha fighters ambushed around 60 regime troops traveling on the Hakha-Falam Highway in the northern part of Hakha. The soldiers were in four vehicles and heading to Hakha to reinforce troops there. Six junta soldiers and a civilian resistance fighter were killed, and more than 10 military troops were injured.
“We condemn the cruelty of the military regime against the civilians in Mindat. We regard the acts of the regime as war crimes. The junta troops opened fire even on a child,” a member of Chinland Defense Force-Hakha said.
He added that the defense force would try to stop the military regime’s violence in Chin State, saying the junta’s terrorism against the civilians of Mindat was totally unacceptable.
Clashes between Mindat’s Defense Forces and junta troops resumed last Wednesday after a ceasefire agreed in late April broke down.
During several days of prolonged fighting in the mountainside town the military regime used heavy explosives, artillery, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, while reinforcements were flown into Mindat on helicopters.
In contrast, Mindat’s civilian defense fighters were armed with old-fashioned homemade hunting rifles.
During the shootouts in Mindat, nine civilian fighters of Mindat’s Defense Force have been killed and about 20 people including residents have been injured.
Due to the shootouts, around 5,000 residents had to flee their homes and thousands have been trapped in the town, according to local residents.
After imposing martial law in Mindat, the junta used artillery to bombard the town and regime soldiers conducted raids on Saturday, using 18 arrested civilians as human shields while entering the town.
Since then, military troops deployed across the town have been opening fire randomly, according to local residents.
They said junta troops have also destroyed houses and looted residents’ belongings.
A 10-year-old girl was seriously injured in Mindat on Monday after being shot in the neck while she was hiding in her house when junta troops opened fire randomly. The girl had been unable to receive proper medical treatment for the whole day because of the presence of regime soldiers in the town.
On Tuesday morning, the injured girl was sent to a hospital in Mandalay for treatment.
After seizing the town, the junta cut off the water supply to residents of Mindat on Tuesday morning, a member of the Mindat’s People Administration told The Irrawaddy.
The US Embassy and UNICEF in Myanmar have issued statements demanding the military regime end all violence in Mindat.
UNICEF also urged that all people, particularly children and young people, remaining in the area be allowed to access medical care and critical humanitarian services.
“The safety of children must be guaranteed. Their right to protection [must be] upheld and international humanitarian law adhered to in all cases, without exception” said UNICEF in Myanmar.
On May 15, Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government urged the international community to take immediate action to end all violence by the military regime and protect Mindat’s residents.
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