Myanmar’s Karenni army attempts capture of Kayah capital

The group attacked a university and prison where junta troops were stationed.
By RFA Burmese
Myanmar’s Karenni army attempts capture of Kayah capital Weapons and ammunition were seized after a military junta camp in Demoso town was torched by joint Karenni forces on Nov. 12, 2023.
Ministry of Defense-National Unity Government

Locals are fleeing a days-long conflict in northeastern Myanmar after Karenni forces attempted to capture a major city, residents said. The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force targeted junta bases in Loikaw University and a prison in the capital of Kayah state on Saturday.

In the following days, the junta army retaliated with airstrikes and shelling, killing 20 civilians, according to the Karenni Human Rights Group. The attacks killed six women and 14 men, including one child. 

Junta troops stationed at the university were frequently raiding nearby villages and shelling them with heavy artillery, said Khun Bedu, chairman of Karenni Nationalities Defense Force. The group attacked the prison to free those who had been imprisoned after the military coup.

“The fighting broke out around the prison. Our platoon commanders surrounded Loikaw Prison, but our forces did not break out and seize the prison,” he told Radio Free Asia. The junta’s air force prevented the group from freeing any prisoners, he said.

Regime spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun released a statement saying the attack on Loikaw University was a “barbaric act,” but did not comment on the junta’s use of airstrikes near the prison or the killings.

Zaw Min Tun said Karenni troops attacked Loikaw University and attempted to take the teachers hostage, according to a pro-junta newspaper.

Khun Bedu denied these accusations, saying the attack was carried out because the army was stationed there and that teachers were relocated by Karenni troops during the fighting.

Neither party disclosed more information on relocated teachers. Loikaw University has been closed since the fighting erupted in the Htay Ngha Hlar neighborhood on Saturday, locals reported. 

Two Loikaw neighborhoods, Daw Eu Khu and Naung Yar, were affected by the fighting. Until Tuesday morning, city gates were blocked by the military junta, one resident reported. 

“The shooting went on all last night and again early this morning. Some neighborhoods in the city [Loikaw] are not accessible anymore,” he said, declining to be named for security reasons. “We cannot get in and out at all in the neighborhoods where there is shooting. The military council does not allow anyone to leave Loikaw city, and it is completely closed.”

Some areas in Loikaw are currently under the control of Karenni forces, and the junta is retaliating both on the ground and in the air, said Khun Bedu. On Saturday, Karenni forces launched Operation-1111 in Kayah state in response to northern allies’ Operation 1027, during which revolutionary groups won control of three major cities in Shan state. 

Since the first day of the military campaign, Karenni revolutionary groups have controlled the areas between Demoso and Moebye in the southern part of Shan state.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.


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