Myanmar Military Suffers Heavy Casualties in Fierce Fighting With Ethnic Armed Groups

By The Irrawaddy 13 April 2021

Fighting broke out between various ethnic armed groups and the Myanmar military at several locations in the country’s north and northeast on Monday, resulting in heavy casualties to the military, including the death of a battalion commander, as well as the reported capture of some of their soldiers.

Fierce clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) took place around Dokphoneyan in Kachin State’s Momauk Township. Tensions have been rising since the KIA seized the Alaw Bum base on March 25 near the Chinese border, which was previously occupied by the Tatmadaw.

KIA information officer, Colonel Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy that the Tatmadaw launched several airstrikes over four days in their efforts to recapture the base from the KIA.

Col. Naw Bu said that the “Tatmadaw is reinforcing its soldiers and clashes may intensify again today”.

A KIA official on the ground said many soldiers, including the battalion commander of the Tatmadaw’s light infantry Battalion No. 387, were reportedly killed by the KIA during the fighting on Monday.

He said that the KIA also captured eight Myanmar military soldiers. However, The Irrawaddy was unable to verify the claim.

A local resident said that six bombs landed in Chinese territory during the airstrikes.

He said that no one was injured on the China side as the bombs landed on farmland.

Clashes were also reported elsewhere in Momauk Township, after the KIA occupied two police outposts and a military base at Tarpein Bridge. Three civilians died in the fighting after artillery shells landed in villages.

Following the KIA’s refusal to recognize the military regime, clashes have been reported across Kachin State and northern Shan State since March 11. 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.

On Monday night, there were also reports of fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) around Myanmar’s ruby centre Mogoke in the Mandalay region.

“We heard heavy artillery shells exploding from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. We also heard gunfire several times,” a Mogoke resident said.

“We saw that the military is reinforcing the troops near that area this morning,” he said.

The Irrawaddy was unable to confirm details of casualties from the fighting.

The TNLA and the Shan State Progress Party’s armed wing Shan State Army-North are active in areas of Mogoke Township. The TNLA is a member of the tripartite Brotherhood Alliance, which also includes the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Arakan Army.

The alliance recently condemned the military regime, warning that they are ready to join forces with all ethnic people in fighting against the junta if it continues its brutal killing of anti-coup protesters.

The Brotherhood Alliance attacked a police outpost in northern Shan State’s Lashio Township on April 10. At least 14 policemen were killed and at least five family members of police officers were wounded in the attack.

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