Myanmar Junta Arrests PDF Fighters Amidst Inle Lake Clashes

By Hein Htoo Zan 9 January 2023

Myanmar’s military regime arrested four members of a People’s Defence Force (PDF) and four of their alleged supporters near Inle Lake in late December and early January.

Inle Lake, in eastern Myanmar’s Shan State, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and, up to now, has been spared the fighting that has engulfed much of Myanmar since the 2021 coup.

In a statement released on Saturday, the junta said that its forces arrested U Zawana a.k.a Soe Than Win, the abbot of Inn Tain Nyaung monastery in Inn Tain Village, Nyaung Shwe Township, where Inle Lake is located, on December 27, accusing the monk of supporting resistance groups.

Two members of Inle PDF – Zaw Zaw Aung and Aik Yon – were arrested in nearby Heho on December 29, along with PDF supporter Than Zaw Htay, Two other PDF supporters, Daw Tin Tin Nyo and Min Min Oo, were detained in the Shan State capital Taunggyi on December 31.

Another two PDF members, Zaw Myo Aung and Zwe Nyi Tun, were arrested near Kan Village in Nyaung Shwe Township on January 4, according to the junta statement.

The regime claimed also to have killed four Inle PDF fighters, including Ko Phoe Khwar, also known as Inn Phoe Kywar, on January 3.

The spokesperson for the Inle PDF told The Irrawaddy that they could only verify the detention of three of the people named in the junta statement.

“They [the regime] arrested innocent people saying that they are PDF supporters, and they should be released immediately,” said Inn Sar Kuu, the Inle PDF spokesperson.

On January 3, clashes broke out between Inle PDF and Myanmar military troops, along with junta-allied Pyu Saw Htee militia and Pa-O National Organization fighters, near Than Htaung Village in Nyaung Shwe.

Inle PDF said that their commander, 30-year-old Ko Phoe Khwar, another officer and a fighter were killed in the clashes, which started with junta forces ambushing an Inle PDF column.

At least 12 regime forces were killed and many others injured in the fighting, said Inle PDF.

The battle was the first clash near Inle Lake since the coup. Inle PDF officially joined the resistance forces of the National Unity Government in December 2022, as infantry battalion 1,009.