Myanmar Junta Shells Own Troops, ‘Killing 5’ in Shan State
By The Irrawaddy 9 February 2023
Five junta troops were killed in a “friendly-fire” incident during day-long clashes with combined People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) in the southern Shan town of Moebye on Wednesday, according to the PDFs.
Clashes erupted as the military delivered reinforcements including a tank to Moebye and continued daily shelling of the area from its nearby base in Loikaw, said the Moebye People’s Defence Force commander.
A combined resistance force comprising the Moebye and Loikaw PDFs and Karenni Nationalities Defence Force Battalion 3 engaged junta troops at the base in Phekhon, Light Infantry Division 442 in Moebye and Warrisupalai village.
During the clashes, three regime artillery strikes missed their target and fell on junta troops at the Sat Taw Yar peak, which overlooks Moebye. Five soldiers were killed and several others wounded in the incident, according to the Moebye PDF.
Residents in and around Moebye have complained of harassment by the unit of around 50 regime soldiers who have been stationed on Sat Taw Yar for the past three months.
“The soldiers search pedestrians, loot their phones and bully them. Residents living around the peak have fled their homes,” Bo Kyaut Saung, commander of Moebye PDF, told The Irrawaddy.
This week saw nearly 100 soldiers dispatched to reinforce the junta outpost at Sat Taw Yar mountain, which is crowned by a pagoda.
“That was the reason for the clashes yesterday. If they continue deploying troops to Sat Taw Yar – which is a sacred site surrounded by civilian communities ¬– fierce fighting is expected in the next few days,” Bo Kyaut Saung said.
The combined resistance force reportedly retreated without suffering casualties on Wednesday.
However, residents said artillery shells fired by regime troops during the clashes also landed in Moebye town.
“We heard the sound of heavy weapons from Soungkan village in the early morning but there was no clash in Moebye today,” a local told The Irrawaddy.
Soungkan, located on the Moebye-Loikaw road, has been the site of frequent clashes between regime troops and resistance forces.
Moebye is located on the border of Southern Shan and is a strategic gateway to Kayah State. The regime military has conducted heavy offensives over the past year in attempts to control the town. Much of Moebye’s population has fled the fighting, though some residents are still living in the town.
No clashes have been reported in Moebye for two months, but regime soldiers are shelling the town and nearby villages frequently, resulting in civilian casualties.
Amid the tense military situation between junta and local resistance forces, Moebye PDF has warned residents to avoid the battle zone and not return to their homes.
It has also asked locals to provide ammunition so it can regain control of the urban area.