Seven members of Karenni resistance forces were reportedly killed on the first day of a series of battles with the Myanmar army in Karenni State’s Demoso Township this week.
The Karenni Army and the Karenni People’s Defence Force (KPDF) launched an ambush on junta troops around the occupied Naung Pale village on Monday. Anti-junta forces lost the seven men that day, according to an information officer for the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), a merger under which Karenni resistance forces have been fighting.
“There were major casualties on both sides during the battles on the first day,” he said, but did not elaborate further on the alleged deaths of Myanmar army troops.
As fighting continued on Tuesday, the military dropped bombs on the area from two fighter jets; by Wednesday, they were firing 120mm artillery shells at resistance forces, the information officer said.
“There are always going to be battles where there are junta forces. We are going to keep attacking them wherever they are stationed. We are going to chase them down even if they withdraw,” he told Myanmar Now.
An officer from the KPDF could only confirm that a 24-year-old member of the group, Soe Thet Paing Hein, was among those killed on Monday.
He did not disclose further information on the battle, but noted that the KPDF was fighting as a squadron under the KNDF.
The allied resistance forces also attacked Myanmar army troops between the villages of Mar Kha Yaw Shey and Law Kyay Khu on Tuesday, with the KNDF’s 15th Battalion releasing a statement the following day claiming that eight junta soldiers were killed and three of their trucks destroyed.
Local anti-junta defence forces formed in Karenni territory in May of last year, and have been fighting against the military alongside the Karenni Army, which serves as the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party, founded more than 60 years ago.
The junta has responded with major bombing campaigns, airstrikes and offensives that have created widespread displacement of civilians in the region. Data from the Karenni State Civil Society Network released in late March indicated that more than 197,000 locals from eight townships had been forced to flee their homes in less than a year.
According to the youth organisation the Progressive Karenni People’s Force, a total of 101 Karenni resistance fighters have been killed by the Myanmar military as of the end of March.
It is not known how many junta soldiers have been killed during the same period, as the military does not release such information on its battles against anti-coup forces.