Government, Kokang Insurgents Dispute Casualties in Latest Skirmish

By Lawi Weng 10 April 2015

RANGOON — State media has reported that another round of skirmishes in Laukkai on Apr. 8 has claimed the lives of 10 Burma Army soldiers and wounded a further 62, figures disputed by Kokang insurgents in the area.

The report, originating from the Ministry of Information, also claimed that the military had seized a total of 20 mountain outposts used as staging areas by Kokang rebels in one day, with tanks and artillery deployed in the battle.

Htun Myat Lin, general-secretary and spokesman for the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), disputed reports of the government’s territorial gains and claimed the ministry had undercounted Burma Army casualties.

“They always report in their media that they have seized our mountain posts,” he said. “If they could seize our posts, there wouldn’t be any more battles. They have been reporting this since we began fighting with them.”

The MNDAA spokesman offered his own casualty figures from the Apr. 8 skirmishes, claiming that around 300 Burma Army soldiers had been killed or wounded.

“We could not count exactly how many of the Tatmadaw’s dead lay on the ground,” he said. “It is sad to see their bodies. We do not want to kill them anymore.”

The Burmese government has issued an arrest warrant for Htun Myat Lin in the meantime, accusing him of fabricating information about the Burma Army soldiers fighting on the frontline around Laukkai.

“I am a bit scared about the arrest warrant,” he said. “But I am working for my people. All my words are true.”

The MNDAA has not been recognized as a party to the ongoing peace process by the Burmese government, despite its membership of the ethnic armies’ National Ceasefire Coordination Team. The government has vowed to continue the fight against the Kokang, which has been raging since the beginning of February.