Myanmar’s junta and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have been clashing fiercely in northern Shan State.
The two sides clashed six times on Sunday in Mongkoe near the Chinese border, according to the MNDAA, which is also known as the Kokang Group.
The Irrawaddy could not independently verify any of the reports.
Junta troops fired more than 900 artillery strikes at an MNDAA base before Battalion 15, which is part of the Meiktila-based Division 99, and Battalion 105 of Bago-based Division 77, attacked the base, the Kokang Group said. Junta troops retreated after fighting for more than three hours.
The regime suffered around 20 casualties while an MNDAA fighter died and three others were injured, according to the Kokang Group. The two sides also clashed in five other locations in Mongkoe, said the MNDAA.
The Kokang Group said on November 10 that the armed group instructed three Mongkoe companies to withdraw at China’s request to control COVID-19 in the town.
Clashes are, however, continuing in Mongkoe because of the junta attacks, an MNDAA officer told The Irrawaddy.
“Fighting happens because of the military. We are exercising restraint but we have to fight when the regime attacks us,” said the officer, who asked not to be named.
More than 10 junta battalions are now in Mongkoe to attack the MNDAA, the group said.
Myanmar’s junta was unavailable for comment.
An analyst, who asked for anonymity, said: “It seems the Kokang Group has gained a foothold. The junta cannot get rid of it.
“The military is overstretched and its combat capability is declining. It needs air and artillery support to fight the PDFs [People’s Defense Forces] which were only formed recently. It is even harder for it to fight the Kokang Group, which is experienced.”
The area of conflict stretches from Mongkoe town and Phaung Sai west of the Salween river to Mong Ya, Mong Hong and Tarmoenye south of the river and to the Hsenwi-Kunlong road.
It gives the MNDAA access to Kokang to the east of the Salween and the group might try to reoccupy the town, said the analyst.
The group has been trying since early July to occupy Mongkoe, which is key to trade with China.
According to the MNDAA, dozens of junta soldiers have been killed in clashes and their weapons have been seized.
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