Myanmar anti-coup fighters claim attack in state capital

This photo taken on January 4, 2022 shows soldiers from the Taaung National Liberation Army (TNLA), an ethnic Palaung armed group, near their frontline in Myanmar’s northern Shan State. On Wednesday, anti-coup fighters attacked a government office in the capital of neighboring Kayah state, west of Thailand’s Tak province, with rockets and grenades. (AFP)

Anti-coup fighters attacked a government office in eastern Myanmar with rockets and grenades on Wednesday, killing more than a dozen junta soldiers according to rebels and local media.

Intense clashes between junta troops and ‘People’s Defense Force’ fighters have ravaged the capital of Kayah state in recent days, with the army calling for air and artillery strikes to support its troops on the ground.

Rebel fighters took over churches and homes in the state capital, Loikaw, and also attacked a prison, a police source told AFP, as they dug in during the fighting. according to UN estimates, almost 90,000 people have been displaced.

On Wednesday, several PDF groups attacked the district administration office and killed 15 junta soldiers in an hour-long battle, a spokesman for one of the groups told AFP. , the Karenni Democratic Front.

The fighters had used grenades and rockets in the attack, according to the spokesman who asked to remain anonymous, adding that their forces suffered no casualties.

“We choose urban warfare because we don’t have enough heavy weapons and guns for big battles against the Burmese army.”

Local media also reported on the attack and said houses had been destroyed by junta shelling.

AFP could not confirm reports of the incident, or the number of casualties, which analysts say both sides are likely inflating or downplaying.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told AFP he could not confirm Wednesday’s clash, but added that PDF fighters had targeted the army headquarters. in Loikaw and several other military posts in the city in recent days.

He was unable to provide information on the junta’s casualties.

Kayah state has seen clashes and bloody reprisals as rebels drag the army into a stalemate.

Over Christmas, the bodies of at least 35 people – including two employees of the NGO Save the Children – were found burned in Kayah state, an atrocity blamed on junta troops.

The military takeover 11 months ago ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and sparked mass protests and a subsequent crackdown that killed more than 1,400 people according to a local watchdog group.