Fighting Breaks Out Near Inle Lake in Southern Shan State 

By Hein Htoo Zan 5 January 2023

Clashes between the Inle People’s Defence Force (PDF) and junta troops with allied Pyu Saw Htee and Pa-O National Organization (PNO) militias have broken out in southern Shan State.

PDF commander Ko Phoe Khwar, 30, another officer and a fighter have been killed in the clashes near Than Htaung village in Nyaung Shwe Township, according to PDF spokesman Ko Inn Saw Kuu.

“The clashes broke out southwest of Inle Lake when junta troops and their militia allies ambushed us on Tuesday,” he said.

He added that there were at least 12 regime and militia deaths and many injuries. At least three PDF members were detained by junta troops.

“We are discussing with our allies about the next steps. We will keep fighting until we get what we want,” he said.

The clash was the first near Inle Lake since the Inle PDF was established last month.

Residents said the junta is increasingly using the PNO to oppress ethnic minority communities in the area.

The PNO has been ordering every village to provide the group with a speedboat and a recruit.

Junta troops and PNO members detained about 30 residents and six NGO staff in Taung Pu Gyi village, which is near Than Htaung, on Sunday for attending a funeral.

“They are just innocent villagers and six female staff from a rural development center. They were attending a funeral and were arrested unlawfully. They have still not been released,” said a Than Htaung villager who has fled his home.

Hundreds of male villagers from Than Htaung, Taung Pu Gyi and other villages near Inle have fled to avoid being forced to work as porters for the PNO.