Karenni Resistance Ambush Reportedly Kills 10 Myanmar Regime Soldiers

By The Irrawaddy 9 June 2022

Around ten junta soldiers were reportedly killed on Tuesday when a column of 100 regime troops was ambushed in Kayah State, southeast Myanmar by a combined force of Karenni resistance groups. The column retreated on Wednesday.  

Junta soldiers left the Kayah capital Loikaw around 8.30am on Tuesday heading for Moe Bye, and were attacked by Karenni resistance fighters at noon by the Balu Chaung River in Moe Bye. 

The clash continued until 3.30pm, with the junta’s light Infantry Battalion 442 based in Moe Bye and a regime battalion based in Loikaw supporting the column with artillery strikes. 

“We ambushed junta reinforcements at noon. It is fair to say that the fighting was a little fierce,” said an information officer of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF). 

Around ten military regime soldiers died in the firefight and some resistance fighters were also injured, according to the KNDF. The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the casualties. 

“They [the junta column] have retreated. Military tensions are running high and clashes can happen any time,” the KNDF information officer told The Irrawaddy. 

Six resistance units including People’s Defense Force (PDF) groups in Pekon and Moe Bye, the Karenni Army, the KNDF and the Southern Shan Revolution Youth took part in the fighting. 

Moe Bye PDF fighters / Moe Bye PDF

Some 1,000 Moe Bye residents fled their homes following the fighting, according to the Karenni Human Rights Group. A woman was killed by a junta artillery strike and two other civilians were injured. A sick man died of shock caused by the artillery strikes, according to the Moe Bye PDF. 

An ethnic affairs analyst based in Myanmar said that the regime lacks the soldiers to launch a large-scale military operation in Kayah, because it has had to reinforce its troops in Rakhine and Shan states. 

“I think the military can’t carry out large-scale military operations for now. It will only conduct small-scale operations to deter the KNDF and allied forces from advancing to Loikaw and Moe Bye. Resistance forces are getting stronger in Kayah State and they have armed themselves. But the regime can’t deploy additional troops. So it can only control towns now, and they have lost control of transportation routes,” said the analyst. 

During the rainy season, Kayah State is more likely to see ambushes and surprise attacks in towns by Karenni resistance groups rather than a large-scale attack by the regime, suggested military and ethnic affairs analysts.  

There are more than 20,000 resistance fighters in Kayah State, with ten per cent of them are armed with automatic assault rifles and the rest with homemade rifles, according to a report One Year: The Momentum of Myanmar’s Armed Rebellion jointly published by the Tagaung Institute of Political Studies and the US-based Wilson Center, 

“Due to a lack of information and support from local people, the overstretched junta troops will be unable to forcefully extend their sway beyond urban areas, only solidifying the areas they currently control. In the upcoming rainy season, resistance forces will seek to forcefully contest the junta’s control in urban areas, which will lead to intensified conflicts across the Karenni theater,” stated the report.