Ethnic Karen-led forces seize Hpapun town from military

Representatives of the People’s Defence Force, which fought alongside the Karen National Union, says the junta has been forced out of the Mutraw District town

Allied forces fighting under the Karen National Union (KNU) took control of the town of Hpapun in Karen State this week, according to members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF), a resistance group which took part in the operation. 

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), with the support of the PDF, began a siege on Hpapun on March 19, and reportedly captured it one week later, on Tuesday. 

“The town is under full control of the KNLA, the PDF, and its allies,” said Tin Oo, a spokesperson for the No. 2 southern sub-command of the PDF, which was involved in the offensive and also operates under the publicly mandated National Unity Government. 

Despite no longer having a ground presence in Hpapun, the military is “conducting airstrikes on civilian targets every day,” Tin Oo added.

The KNU has not released a statement on the seizure of Hpapun, which is located in its Brigade 5 administrative area, known as Mutraw District. Myanmar Now was unable to reach the ethnic armed organisation’s spokesperson for comment. 

On Thursday the Karen Information Center, a local media outlet, reported the seizure of Hpapun by the KNLA after a Brigade 5 spokesperson said that junta troops had retreated from their positions in the town. 

According to previous Myanmar government demarcation, which differs from the KNU’s structure of its territory, Hpapun is the administrative centre of the township by the same name. 

Overtaking Hpapun town has not driven the military out of Mutraw District, where at least four junta infantry battalions remain active. 

Ethnic Karen media have reported that fighting has been ongoing around Mutraw and thousands of residents have been displaced due to junta shelling and aerial assaults on the area. 

Intense fighting also broke out near the border between Karen and Mon states when KNLA and its allies attacked and seized a police station in Kawt Bein village in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township on Sunday. 

More than 200 houses in the Dhamma Tha village in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township burned down due to junta artillery fire on Wednesday, according to the Lion Battalion, an armed group fighting under the KNLA. 

Two children in Dhamma Tha, as well as two women in Kawt Pauk village in Kawkareik Township—which is less than a mile from the state boundary—were killed by junta artillery strikes on Sunday. 

Another junta airstrike in Bago Region’s Taungoo District, where the KNU is active, displaced thousands of residents from five villages on Tuesday, according to local news outlets.

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