Kokang Armed Group Reports Escalating Fighting With Myanmar Junta

By The Irrawaddy 2 December 2021

The ethnic Kokang army said it clashed with Myanmar’s junta 126 times during November in northern Shan State.

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) is fighting around Kokang, Mongkoe and Hsenwi to gain control to the west of Salween River with violence increasing last month after the arrival of junta reinforcements.

Mongkoe, a town in Muse Township on the Chinese border, has seen the heaviest fighting.

An analyst of ethnic minority affairs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the clashes became more frequent with the deployment of several battalions from the Meiktila-based Division 99 and Bago-based Division 77.

“The Kokang want to get a foothold to connect their territories and the military does not want to give in. During the recent fighting, the regime did not use aerial support, suggesting it wants to avoid hitting Chinese territory,” said the analyst.

The MNDAA said Myanmar’s military had heavily used artillery to support its ground troops and shelled MNDAA outposts when there was no fighting.

In November, the military fired nearly 2,400 artillery strikes at MNDAA outposts, it claimed.

Early this week, MNDAA spokesman Li Tianfu said there were 263 clashes between junta troops and the MNDAA around Mongkoe since early July, in which an estimated 198 junta soldiers died and some 700 were injured.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify any of the reports.

The junta’s spokesman, Major General Zaw Min Tun, on Nov. 26 said clashes with MNDAA were frequent and the armed group was using increasing firepower.

He claimed the MNDAA fired around 200,000 bullets, 5,300 rocket-propelled grenades and more than 40 107mm shells.

The spokesman questioned how the armed group had obtained the additional weapons and appeared to ask if China was supporting the group.

The junta’s peace negotiating committee has reportedly communicated with northeastern armed groups, including the MNDAA, about arranging a ceasefire.

The MNDAA demands the return of territory in Laukkai, Kone Kyan and Chin Shwe Haw, which was occupied by the previous military regime in 2009. The junta rejected the demands before the latest round of fighting.

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