Battles edge closer to town Katha, Sagaing Region

Fighting was ongoing throughout the weekend between the junta’s forces and a resistance coalition in Sagaing Region’s Katha Township, with the military reportedly suffering several casualties, according to a statement released by the Katha People’s Defence Force (PDF) on Sunday. 

Myanmar army troops stationed in Nant Hlaing, three miles north of Katha town, were intercepted by an alliance made up of the Katha PDF and the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) as they left the village at 7am on Saturday. 

At least seven junta troops were killed, the statement said. 

A woman from Katha told Myanmar Now that gunshots could be heard in the town and that the military’s Light Infantry Battalion 309, stationed in the south of the township, had been firing artillery shells in the direction of the battle site. 

The pagoda in Hmat Taing village that was damaged by junta shells is seen on January 18 (Supplied)

Citing eyewitness reports, she said that the Myanmar army brought their wounded troops to Katha hospital after the fighting on Saturday. 

“There were so many injuries. Many of them lost their limbs,” she said.

She claimed that a man from Nant Hlaing village had also died, and another man and child were injured by the military’s shells. 

Further information was not available at the time of reporting, and Myanmar Now was unable to verify the total number of casualties of troops, resistance fighters or civilians. 

Battles reportedly continued at 5am on Sunday as the military once again fired heavy artillery into the area. 

“I don’t know how long the battle lasted but they have been continuously firing shells. My ears are ringing now,” the woman from Katha said on Monday, by which time fighting appeared to have stopped, but the streets of the town remained empty.

The Katha PDF’s statement claimed that there were no casualties in the resistance coalition, which they attributed to the “tactical expertise” of the ABSDF battalion commander.  

Myanmar Now has been unable to speak with the ABSDF about the clashes. 

On January 18, the military dropped two bombs from fighter jets near Mhat Taing village, also in Katha Township, and fired machine guns from above, damaging several buildings including the community’s pagoda. A 50-year-old man and an eight-year-old child were injured, according to a local. 

Days earlier, they carried out an airstrike on the neighbouring village of Moe Dar Gyi, damaging multiple homes and injuring a child. 

Katha Township borders Kachin State, and the Katha PDF recently announced that they are collaborating with the PDF in neighbouring Shwegu Township.

Sagaing and much of northwestern Myanmar has become a stronghold of the anti-coup resistance movement, with forces regularly ambushing junta troops moving through the region. 

The military council has declared the PDF throughout the country a terrorist organisation, and has not released any information regarding battles in Katha Township. 

The junta continues to send reinforcement troops, weapons and ammunition along the Irrawaddy River; resistance forces from townships along the river, including Katha, Shwegu and Htigyaing, have been intercepting the boats and carrying out attacks on the supply line. 

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