Myanmar Junta Troops Die in Weekend Clashes

By The Irrawaddy 30 August 2021

Myanmar’s regime sustained casualties, allegedly including a battalion commander, during fighting with ethnic armed groups and civilian resistance fighters in three states over the weekend.

At least five junta soldiers reportedly died during clashes with joint forces of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Army (MNDAA) near Muse in northern Shan State on Saturday.

Following the clash, a video showing the death of four soldiers went viral online. The MNDAA claimed on Monday that a battalion commander and their deputy were among the dead but the military denied the reports.

On Sunday afternoon, Kokang News reported: “MNDAA troops ambushed junta soldiers advancing to Mongkoe from Kunlon two times and killed at least five soldiers and injured about 20. The MNDAA seized weapons.”

“The commander and deputy commander were among the dead. We seized the weapons including two pistols,” said the MNDAA’s information officer.

Junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun on Sunday said: “A few soldiers died, others were injured and we lost some weapons during the fighting between Mongkoe and Panglong. No battalion commander was killed.”

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the casualties.

The ethnic Kokang armed group said the fighting was only between the military and MNDAA, denying the involvement of the KIA, a member of the Northern Alliance. The Irrawaddy could not reach the KIA for a comment.

The MNDAA said the group and Mongkoe District Defense Force defended junta troops and warned that intensified fighting is expected due to continuous junta offensives. On Monday, military tensions persisted in Mongkoe, according to the MNDAA.

On Sunday afternoon, junta artillery landed in Nam Har village in Mongkoe and killed four villagers, according to residents.

Ethnic armed groups in Karen, Kayah, Shan and Kachin states began joining resistance fighters in March in support of the pro-democracy movement.

Fighting between the regime and armed groups in Kayah and Karen states over the weekend inflicted casualties on the military.

On Sunday, three soldiers died during clashes between junta troops and the Karen National Liberation Army in a village in Paan, according to the Karen National Union, the political wing of the KNLA.

At least three junta soldiers died during clashes with the Karen National Liberation Army troops on Aug. 29.

The area is controlled by KNLA Brigade 1 in Thaton District. Military tension rose in KNLA areas last week due to the deployment of regime troops.

On Sunday, at least four clashes occurred between the military’s Brigade 66 and the joint forces of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and Karenni Army at Loilen Lay in Loikaw, Kayah State.

The Karenni Army is the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party. The KNDF was formed with civilian volunteers from Kayah State and Pekon Township in southern Shan State.

The KNDF said three rifles, ammunition and Energa anti-tank rifle grenades were seized.

In early August, there was fighting between junta troops and the Northern Alliance in Mongkoe and Pansai, displacing hundreds of villagers and sending two artillery shells into China territory. China lodged complaints and said it warned the junta. The junta blamed the opposition for the incidents.

The MNDAA, KIA and KNPP were in ceasefire talks with the National League for Democracy government before the February coup. The KNU signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement in 2015 and was also in negotiations with the government.

The junta claims it is in talks with the armed groups.

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