Fighting in Lay Kay Kaw expected to intensify after junta soldier killed in fresh clash 

Fighting with the junta’s forces in the Karen State town of Lay Kay Kaw is expected to intensify in the coming days, a resistance group has said. 

A spokesperson for the Cobra Column said that the Myanmar military has been building up reinforcements in the area, including tanks, and that violence was expected to escalate after a clash on Thursday evening in the nearby village of Hpa Lu. 

A soldier from the junta’s Light Infantry Division 44 was killed in the clash, which started at around 6:30pm, while three others were injured, he added. 

“It can be seen from the fact that the enemy has been sending massive reinforcements that the battles will become more serious in the next few days,” said the spokesperson.

Junta soldiers stationed at a base in Swetaw Kone fired artillery shells at the site of Thursday’s clash from 7pm to 11pm, slightly injuring two Cobra Column fighters, he added.  

Early this month resistance fighters killed dozens of junta troops during fighting in Lay Kay Kaw, which is in territory claimed by the Karen National Union (KNU). Cobra Column is fighting alongside the KNU’s armed wing in the town. 

Almost 500 of the regime’s soldiers have been killed and another 300 injured in clashes across Karen since March, according to the KNU.

There have also been a number of recent defections from the military in the area, including three lieutenant colonels who are the highest ranking soldiers to desert their posts since last year’s coup. 

Fighting first broke out in Lay Kay Kaw, which was once seen as a haven for anti-coup activists, after junta soldiers arrested several people during raids there in December. 

The town was built in 2015 after the KNU signed a ceasefire with the military, and was meant to be a monument to newfound peace in the region. 

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