Junta troops destroy roads in northern Myanmar as renewed fighting looms

Bulldozers have made several major roads impassable amid a buildup of insurgent forces in the area.
By RFA Burmese
Junta troops destroy roads in northern Myanmar as renewed fighting looms Junta representatives held talks with MNDAA, TNLA and AA delegates in Mongla township, eastern Shan state, Myanmar, June 1, 2023.
Myanmar Military Photo

Military junta troops have destroyed major roads that connect several towns and cities controlled by rebel forces in northern Myanmar’s Shan State in what could be preparation for renewed fighting in the area, residents told Radio Free Asia.

Junta forces used bulldozers on Wednesday to damage a road connecting Namtu township and Namsang Man Ton, which has been under the control of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, or TNLA.

On Thursday, junta bulldozers made a section of the Lashio-Hsenwi road impassable. That part of the road, which leads to Hsenwi, Kun Long and Chinshwehaw townships, is an area controlled by the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, or MNDAA.

The TNLA, MNDAA and Arakan Army together make up the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which in October launched an offensive that has dealt the military a series of defeats, pushing government forces back.

Residents of Lashio told RFA that security has been tightened at the entrance to the strategic town, which is home to the military’s northeast command headquarters.

The road leading to Lashio city under the control of Brigade 6 of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) was destroyed by the junta, June 13, 2024. (PSLF/TNLA News via Telegram)

That’s likely a reaction to a nearby buildup of forces by the Three Brotherhood Alliance, a resident told RFA on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

“It’s been apparent that the junta has also been gathering its forces and weapons near the area controlled by the ethnic armed organizations,” the resident said. 

“Moreover, insurgent forces have been seen near Lashio,” the resident. “And now the roads to Lashio have been cut off. It is expected that conflict will occur very soon.”

Ceasefire violation

A resident of Moe Meik township, who requested not to be named, told RFA that people are already fleeing to safe areas ahead of expected armed clashes between the junta and the alliance.

“We have learned that the ethnic alliance force is headed to this area,” he said. “Almost all the people have left the town now.”

The destroyed roads have led to a rise in the price of rice and other goods, a Namtu township resident told RFA. Gasoline has increased from 3,600 kyat (US$1.72) to 4,000 kyat (US$1.91) per liter and is being sold on a limited basis, he said.

In nearby Kutkai township, the price of rice has risen by 50,000 kyat (US$24) per bag as people rush to buy supplies, a resident there said.

Three Brotherhood Alliance and junta representatives agreed to a Chinese-brokered ceasefire during a round of talks in January. Less than a week after the agreement, both sides were accused of violating the deal. 

Members of the Kokang army (MNDAA) clean up the Rantheshan camp, which they had just captured, October 29, 2023. (The Ko Kang via Facebook)

Junta forces carried out artillery shelling on June 9 on a TNLA outpost between Pang Tin and Man Pying villages, which is located about 32 kilometers (20 miles) away from Moe Meik. 

Troop movements and other preparations by the TNLA are in response to the shelling, several residents said.

TNLA spokeswoman Lway Yay Oo told RFA that the junta is violating the January ceasefire agreement, and they will carry out retaliatory attacks if junta troops conduct more military action.

“It was found that the junta has sent more drones and forces in northern Shan state. They are also cutting off routes,” he said. “It is deliberately creating fear in the public.”

Calls by RFA to junta spokesperson Major Gen. Zaw Min Tun for a response to the TNLA spokeswoman’s remark went unanswered.   

It’s unlikely that members of the Three Brotherhood Alliance would accept another ceasefire, military and political commentator Hla Kyaw Zaw said.

“Even if China tries to prevent it again, the TNLA will not stop its mission,” he said. “Now that the junta has cut through the roads, the TNLA has reason to attack.”

Translated by Aung Naing. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.


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