Forty junta soldiers killed in Sunday clashes in southeastern Myanmar 

A coalition of anti-junta forces killed 40 Myanmar military soldiers during a day of intense fighting in the Karen State town of Lay Kay Kaw on Sunday, the National Unity Government (NUG) has said. 

Fighting broke out at around 2am, when some 300 junta troops clashed with the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), which fought alongside a local resistance group called the Cobra Column. 

The junta’s forces bombed the area at least 20 times with two fighter jets, destroying civilian homes in the town’s Ward 6, according to resistance fighters who shared photos and videos of the damage. 

A junta artillery unit stationed on a hill to the south of the town also fired shells at the neighbourhood. The exact extent of the damage is not known. Fighting continued until 6pm on Sunday, the Cobra Column said in a statement. 

Resistance fighters found the dead bodies of 12 junta soldiers, including officers, the statement added. The group released photos that showed the remains of several houses destroyed by the military’s artillery shells and bombs.

“They’ve been opening fire from the aircrafts continuously. They also dropped bombs. We can now see clearly that the military is targeting civilian houses,” said a spokesperson for the Cobra Column.

Fighting first broke out in Lay Kay Kaw in December last year after junta forces raided the town and made dozens of arrests. The KNU-controlled town had been seen as a haven for anti-coup activists who fled other parts of Myanmar to avoid being captured. 

Several civilians have been killed and thousands displaced since then. There were no confirmed civilian casualties from Sunday’s violence at the time of reporting. 

Two 18-year-old resistance fighters named Maw Kun Thit and Aung Min Khant were killed on Sunday, while four other anti-junta fighters were injured, the Cobra Column spokesperson said. 

Captured junta soldier Captain Tin Lin Khaing sits in front of weapons seized by the KNLA on Sunday (PVTV)

As well as killing 40 junta soldiers, the resistance fighters also captured a captain named Tin Lin Khaing from Light Infantry Division 44 and seized six machine guns, an RPG launcher, and several magazines of bullets, the NUG’s statement said. 

A Myanmar military defector named Major Tin Lin Aung fought alongside the resistance on Sunday and helped fire 81mm heavy artillery shells at the junta’s forces, the Cobra Column statement said.

Tin Lin Aung deserted his post at Light Infantry Battalion 585 on March 25 and turned himself in to the KNU. 

Pado Saw Taw Nee, a KNU spokesperson, said on Sunday that it was difficult to verify the exact details of the latest clash. “We told the military to withdraw but they sent more reinforcements and fighter jets, resulting in the continuation of the battle,” he said.

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