Myanmar Junta Reinforcements Spark Heavy Attacks
By The Irrawaddy 19 May 2022
Military tensions are running high between Myanmar’s regime and the Karenni resistance in Pekon, Shan State.
The junta is attacking the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF). The operations are in response to an ambush on a military checkpoint in Nyaung Shwe Township, Shan State, on May 11 which captured five junta troops, including a deputy battalion commander, along with weapons.
The KNDF 3 Battalion in Pekon said it led resistance forces against the junta’s 422 Battalion advancing to the east of the Moe Bye dam near Pekon on Wednesday morning. Junta troops based in Loikaw provided artillery support, the KNDF said.
A KNDF fighter was killed and another critically injured in the fighting. Fresh fighting is expected at any time around Pekon, said the KNDF.
The regime is attacking the Karenni resistance to the east of the Moe Bye dam from Hsi Hseng, Hopong and Moe Bye in southern Shan State.
“There is Pekon Lake in the east of Pekon. Junta troops came down from Hopong and Pinglong in the north and 422 Battalion and 66 Division came from Loikaw to the south with armored vehicles. They are trying to trap us east of the lake,” said a KNDF spokesman.
The Pa-O National Organization (PNO), led by Aung Kham Hti, is fighting alongside junta troops. The KNDF, people’s defense forces and the Southern Shan Revolution Youth, a coalition of five revolutionary groups, are fighting the junta, according to witnesses.
The KNDF said both sides might have suffered casualties and junta and PNO troops torched Saung Nan Ke village in Pekon, although there was no fighting near the village. Thirty houses were reportedly burned down.
Junta troops airdropped reinforcements and ammunition to Pekon on Tuesday, suggesting the regime regards the roads as insecure. More fighting was reported on Wednesday morning.
The KNDF threatened to attack the PNO.
“We crush anyone that cooperates with the regime. Anyone that cooperates with the regime is our enemy,” said the spokesman.
The Karenni State Consultative Council (KSCC) posted an open letter on Facebook on May 14 to the PNO, Pa-O National Liberation Organization and Pa-O people.
It thanked the Pa-O for caring for those fleeing Kayah State and said it understood that the Pa-O wanted peace and stability in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone.
The letter urged the Pa-O to avoid entanglement with the regime which only brings harm to the ethnic group.
The KNDF spokesman said: “We will intercept junta reinforcements. It is our duty because many villages have been damaged by junta attacks. We will always attack them and our attacks will intensify.”