Rebel Chin forces in Myanmar capture town on Indian border

Cikha is the 9th town in Chin state to fall to the rebel army.
By RFA Burmese
2024.05.20
Rebel Chin forces in Myanmar capture town on Indian border The view of Cikha town of Tonzang township, Myanmar, May 19, 2024.
Citizen journalist

Armed ethnic Chin rebels have captured the town of Cikha in northwestern Myanmar near the border with India in the latest setback for the military junta.

The combined forces of Chin National Army, or CNA, and the Chin Regional Defense Forces – grassroots militia made up of citizens opposed to the junta that ousted the country’s democratically elected government in a 2021 coup – captured the town of about 3,000 people, the CNA said Monday.

Cikha is the ninth township in Chin state to fall to the ethnic army. Two more townships in the state have been seized by the Arakan Army, an armed ethnic Rakhine group that also is fighting the junta.

Since late October, rebel groups in the northern and western part of the country have made significant gains against junta troops, overrunning dozens of camps and capturing hundreds of soldiers. That has prompted the military to impose a draft to replenish its dwindling ranks.

In Cikha, the rebels currently control a police station and a military garrison that were held by the junta, CNA spokesperson Salai Htet Ni told RFA Burmese.

"Cikha is in a situation that we can control,” he said. “However, there are still military council troops in some parts of the city, so we are continuing to clear these areas,” referring to the junta.

The attack began on Friday, May 17. After Cikha fell on Sunday, the rebels began advancing on Tonzang, further to the south. 

Salai Htet Ni said that there were casualties on both sides, but the details are not yet known.

ENG_BUR_CIKHA TOWN_05202024.2.jpg
Refugees flee Tonzang township, Myanmar, May 18, 2024. (Citizen journalist)

 

Residents of Cikha and Tonzang said that some of the junta troops who retreated from Cikha have joined forces with those in Tonzang to counterattack. Also, the junta has been conducting airstrikes since the attack began on Friday, they said.

Fleeing or trapped 

A resident of Tonzang, speaking anonymously for security reasons, told RFA that about 8,000 people live in the town, and about 70% have fled due to fighting. The remaining residents are believed to be trapped by aerial bombardment and the fighting on the ground.

"Today, a jet fighter made two passes in the morning,” the resident said. 

Efforts are being made to evacuate Tonzang, a volunteer said.

"The youth organization is coming to the rescue,” he told RFA on condition of anonymity to speak freely. “If a (junta) helicopter arrives, we will not be able to evacuate. We are currently evacuating people to a location three miles (about five kilometers) away from Tonzang.”

Aid workers said that because of the fighting in the region, residents of 15 villages, including the villages of Tuitum, Nazang, Phaitu, near the highway that connects Tonzang and Cikha, have fled into the forests.

The junta has not yet released any official statements regarding the situation in Tonzang and Cikha. RFA attempted to contact Aung Cho, the state secretary and the spokesman for the junta in Chin state, but he did not respond to phone calls.

Translated by Kalyar Lwin. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.

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