Clashes reported in southern Shan State in wake of attack on military outpost

Junta forces clashed with resistance fighters in southern Shan State over the weekend following an attack late last week that left 15 regime soldiers dead.

The military began advancing into the villages of Taung Poet Kwe in Nyaungshwe Township and Saung Nang Khae and Loi Paw in Pekhon Township, south of the site of the attack, on Friday, resistance forces reported.

Last Thursday, two allied defence forces, the Pekhon People’s Defence Force (PDF) and the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force’s (KNDF), overran an outpost in Hti Ri, a village in Nyaungshwe near the township’s border with Pekhon.

Fifteen junta troops were killed in that assault, and five others—including two members of the Pa-O National Army (PNA), an ethnic armed group allied with Myanmar’s military—were captured.

The attack was led by the Pekhon PDF, which is under the command of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG).

Naing Htoo Aung, the secretary of the NUG’s ministry of defence, said that recent clashes in southern Shan State show how resistance forces have managed to expand their military activities to challenge the coup regime.

“Our battalions and squadrons under the defence ministry joined forces with the KNDF, local PDFs, and other resistance groups and managed to carry out united attacks,” he told Myanmar Now on Monday.

On Sunday, two units of the NUG’s forces, battalions 1005 and 1008, clashed with around 80 junta troops for about an hour beginning at 7am, according to a Pekhon PDF officer. Local Karenni forces also took part in the fighting, he added.

“The military column didn’t have much manpower, and they couldn’t advance far, because they were relying on heavy artillery fire from Pekhon for support,” he said.

He explained that Military Operations Command No. 7, based in the town of Pekhon, used heavy weapons to fire on resistance forces in the area where the clash took place.

“When they launched heavy weapons against us, there wasn’t much we could do to resist,” he said, adding that two jet fighters and a helicopter had also been deployed. 

One member of Battalion 1008 named Chit Kaung was killed in the attack, and another was injured, the officer said. He speculated that the helicopter had been sent to retrieve the body of a military officer, but this could not be confirmed.

Battalion 1008 was formed in April and is a coalition of different defence forces based in southern Shan State.

Meanwhile, fighting was also reported in Moebye Township, on the border with Kayah (Karenni) State, on Saturday after another  PDF group under the NUG’s command attacked an army outpost.

Until recently, there was relatively little resistance activity in Shan State, despite the presence of several ethnic armed groups there. Naing Htoo Aung said this was because the NUG was taking time to prepare its operations in the state.

“The time it takes to begin carrying out attacks depends on the preparation processes required in different areas,” he said.

In addition to the PNA, another ethnic armed group active in southern Shan State, the Kayan National Guard, is known to be fighting alongside junta troops.

On Friday, the anti-junta Karenni State Consultative Council sent an open letter to local Pa-O people warning them to avoid areas where junta troops are active and not to collaborate with them. 

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