Myanmar Military Suffers Heavy Casualties in Attacks by Ethnic Armed Group in Kachin State

By The Irrawaddy 16 April 2021

The Myanmar military has reportedly suffered heavy casualties following attacks launched by the ethnic armed group the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on a military base and convoy in Kachin State on Thursday.

On the morning of April 15 the KIA attacked a Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) base in the area of Nam Byu in Tanai Township. The base had been captured by the Tatmadaw from the KIA in 2018. Immediately after the attack, two military fighter jets launched airstrikes in the area.

A resident said, “There was heavy fighting in the area from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. We saw the dead bodies of Myanmar soldiers being taken away by the Tatmadaw after the attack”.

“We were not able to count [dead bodies] because there were many soldiers guarding the area,” he added.

The military-controlled MRTV said that at least 100 KIA soldiers had launched an attack on the Nam Byu base at 6 am, and claimed that the Tatmadaw suffered no casualties.

KIA information officer Colonel. Naw Bu refused to give casualty details as he was unable to reach the area.

However, a KIA officer on the ground told The Irrawaddy that “We could not retake our base yesterday. We had to retreat because of the airstrikes. But I am sure that they lost many soldiers [during the attack]”.

At around 4am on Thursday the KIA also attacked a Tatmadaw convoy in Bhamo Township. The convoy was on its way to reinforce troops attempting to retake a strategically-located KIA base in Alaw Bum near the border with China.

The KIA said that that it used mines against 16 military trucks near Sihub village. One truck went up in flames and the Tatmadaw took casualties during the attack, according to the KIA.

KIA soldiers captured the Alaw Bum base on March 25. Since April 10, there has been heavy fighting between the Tatmadaw and the KIA as the regime’s forces have attempted to retake the base. The Tatmadaw has lost at least 100 soldiers during the fighting, including a battalion commander, despite using airstrikes on the KIA forces.

“There was no fighting this morning. But the Tatmadaw keep reinforcing their troops, so there will be heavy fighting in the coming days,” a KIA officer said.

On Friday morning nearly 300 people from Myothit, Konlaw and Num Laung villages fled their homes for a Kachin Baptist Convention centre in Momauk Township, after the Tatmadaw launched airstrikes and artillery attacks near the villages.

Clashes were also reported in at least two places in Putao Township. Fighting has intensified across Kachin State and northern Shan State since March 11, following the KIA’s refusal to recognize the military regime.

The KIA has attacked military and police outposts and has threatened to step up its attacks if the junta continues to shoot peaceful protesters across the country.

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