Five Myanmar regime soldiers including a captain were killed during a clash with a local resistance group on Thursday while en route to reinforce the military’s besieged Ukayit Hta outpost in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township, the group said Friday. Cobra Column, a People’s Defense Force (PDF) group fighting alongside the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), said the clash occurred on the Myawaddy-Waw Lay road.
The KNLA is one of the armed wings of the Karen National Union (KNU), along with the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO). The ethnic armed organizations and other resistance groups launched an assault on the strategic Ukayit Hta outpost near the Thai border in Myawaddy’s Waw Lay on June 26.
About 600 soldiers from five battalions of the Myanmar military’s Light Infantry Division (LID) No. 44, along with 100 members of the junta-allied Border Guard Force (BGF) led by Major Saw Mont Thon, were sent to reinforce the Ukayit Hta outpost on Thursday, traveling on foot via the Myawaddy-Waw Lay road, according to a statement from Cobra Column.
Cobra Column said its forces engaged troops from Light Infantry Battalion No. 207 at Thone Htat Kwe on the road on Thursday and found the bodies of five regime soldiers including a captain and a medical officer the following day.
As the fighting is ongoing, Cobra Column said it could not confirm the total number of regime casualties but added its side had not suffered any. The Irrawaddy was not able to verify the figures for either side.
Cobra Column said it seized one MA-1 assault rifle, about 475 5.56-mm bullets, one bomb and other arms after the clash.
About 300 regime forces including high-ranking officers from the military’s Tactical Operations Command are based at the Ukayit Hta outpost. Fighting in the area has eased somewhat since July 3, according to Major Saw Win Myint from the Venom Commando Army, a special commando unit under the KNDO operating near the outpost.
In the 13 days of fighting at Ukayit Hta since June 26, over 200 regime soldiers and about nine fighters from the KNLA, KNDO and allied groups have been killed, according to the Venom Commando Army.
Myanmar’s military regime reportedly carried out 125 airstrikes from June 27 to July 1 to defend the outpost.
More than 1,000 Waw Lay residents had fled across the Moei River to Thailand as of June 30 due to the fighting, according to a rescue team in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.