Myanmar Junta Losing Grip on Key Kayah Township: Resistance

By The Irrawaddy 5 January 2022

Myanmar’s regime is increasingly losing control of Demoso Township in Kayah State, according to the Demoso People’s Defense Force (PDF).

The fighting between junta troops and resistance groups is more intense in Demoso than other townships in the state, said a spokesman.

“The regime now only has control over 20 percent of the town. It doesn’t influence other parts of the town,” said the spokesman.

Demoso PDF fighters.

Civilians have fled areas occupied by junta troops in Demoso, he said. “They do not influence the area they occupy. Troops are deployed there but there are no civilians left for them to rule. They are deployed in designated war zones,” he added.

Division 66 are deployed around Ngwe Taung Dam and at Demoso police station, the township’s football pitch and agricultural institute. They are only in a defensive role, hiding around Demoso, according to the PDF.

“The regime apparently wants to control the Loikaw-Bawlakhe road. A few soldiers are deployed near the road but they only come out when clashes occur. Some are also deployed at the police station,” said the PDF spokesman.

Demoso PDF fighters.

Military tensions remain high in Demoso after junta troops fired at random on Monday, although there was no fighting. “They fired around 100 shots from where they were hiding, mostly small arms. They have only fired 10 to 15 artillery shells lately,” said the spokesman.

The latest clash broke out last Friday near Ngwe Taung Dam between junta troops and allied forces of the Karenni resistance groups. The military regime has reportedly used helicopters and armored vehicles since fighting started on New Year’s Eve.

Demoso PDF fighters.

Other resistance groups include the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force, Karenni Army, Karenni Generation Z and PDFs from Loikaw and Hpruso in Kayah and Moe Bye and Pekon in Shan State.

On New Year’s Eve, around 50 junta troops were ambushed by resistance groups and the regime sent two helicopters to rescue trapped soldiers, the resistance groups claimed.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify any of the reports.

Demoso PDF fighters.

“If the helicopters had been 30 minutes later, we would have been able to defeat them. But we had to withdraw when the helicopters came,” said a resistance fighter.

More than 30 junta soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, died on New Year’s Eve and around 10 died over the next two days, said the PDF spokesman.

“Five resistance fighters died and many suffered minor injuries,” he said.

Demoso PDF fighters.

Most Demoso residents had fled by September, according to charity worker Ko Tint.

He said: “We fled in May. We returned in July and August as clashes ceased but we had to leave again in September. Some went back to their homes in early December but left within a few days back to camps. We have two displacement camps and need two more.”

More than 34,000 residents have been displaced in Demoso since the coup. There are food shortages, despite supplies from international groups, donors and Karenni resistance groups, said charity workers.

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