Eight Myanmar Junta Troops Killed in Myawaddy Clashes: Cobra Column

By Hein Htoo Zan 15 May 2023

Combined resistance forces and drone teams under the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) killed at least eight junta troops during three days of clashes in Myawaddy Township, Karen State, according to resistance fighters.

Clashes between junta troops and the resistance’s Cobra Column (1) – comprised of fighters from the People’s Defence Force (PDF), Black Panther Column, Federal Wings, and Golden Eagle under Brigade 6 of the KNLA, the armed wing of Karen National Union – erupted near Mae Ka Nal village on Thursday (May 11).

A Cobra Column (1) member said junta troops first targeted resistance forces near the village with artillery strikes from Lat Khat Mountain on Thursday before launching the ground attack.

“As they were shelling us, we mobilized and were joined by other [resistance] columns and teams to meet their attack,” he said.

The junta’s military column comprised troops from Infantry Battalion 275 and Light Infantry Battalion 118, reinforced by Border Guard Force 1019, according to resistance sources.

Two resistance fighters were injured on Thursday as Cobra Column members mobilized to repel the military’s assault. Fierce clashes continued on Friday and Saturday, when resistance forces killed four junta troops and wounded at least 12, according to the Cobra Column.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the claims.

Most residents of Mae Ka Nal and nearby villages have fled their homes amid fighting over the past month. Clashes between junta troops and KNLA and allied resistance groups also broke out in the area last month from April 18 to 21.

“We cannot return to our homes while the fighting continues and we don’t know how long it will last,” said a 40-year-old male resident of Mae Ka Nal village.

He is among about 1,000 Mae Ka Nal residents taking shelter in a Myawaddy monastery in Myawaddy. Hundreds of other villagers have sought sanctuary at other monasteries in the township.

He said clashes were reportedly still breaking out. Resistance fighters confirmed shots were still being fired, though the junta military column had retreated some distance away.

On Saturday, junta forces again opened fire with artillery and mortar shells, targeting positions taken up by KNLA troops and resistance allies. An intense firefight ensued during which at least four junta soldiers were killed and 15 wounded, according to Cobra Column (1). A member of Cobra Column was also killed and four others wounded, it said.