India-based Zomi armed group raids Chin resistance camps in northwestern Myanmar

The raid by the ZRA, which operates in Chin State as well as neighbouring Indian states, is the latest in a series of attacks on anti-junta resistance groups beginning as far back as 2021

The Chinland Defence Force (CDF) claims that two of its fighters were killed when the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) attacked its camps in Tonzang Township, northern Chin State twice in recent weeks. 

The ZRA—another ethnic armed organisation based in the state of Manipur, India, which serves as a border guard force for the Indian government—raided one of the camps belonging to the Chin anti-junta resistance group near Tonzang on August 31, and another CDF camp last Sunday. 

In the first raid, the ZRA overwhelmed the fighters in the CDF camp with superior numbers, killing CDF member Paung Kap Thang and seizing drones and heavy artillery, according to Thang Suan Mung, general secretary of the CDF chapter based in Tonzang. 

“Most of the CDF fighters were able to escape with their own guns. But we weren’t able to take the more important drones, heavy guns, and artillery shells,” Thang Suan Mung told Myanmar Now. 

“Two drones, one 60mm gun, two 40mm guns, a rocket-propelled grenade and seven motorcycles were seized,” he added. 

The ZRA then raided another CDF camp in Tonzang Township at around 9am on Sunday, killing CDF fighter Mung Kap Thang and seizing an automatic rifle, according to the CDF-Tonzang general secretary. 

“When our comrade went to stand guard, we heard that they were already lying in wait and shot him. A gun was seized. After the fight, they immediately ran away,” he said, adding that CDF fighters had subsequently received orders to withdraw from the township temporarily. 

The CDF formed in Chin State in 2021 in response to the military coup, and has since been fighting against the military regime alongside the older Chin National Army (CNA)—the armed wing of the ethnic political group Chin National Front (CNF), founded in 1988.

CDF-Tonzang fighter Mang Kap Thang (CDF-Tonzang)

First formed in 1993, the ZRA was designated as a Border Guard Force for India in 2005. While the larger organisation is based in Manipur, India, the ZRA’s Eastern Command is headquartered in Chin State.

The ZRA’s motives for attacking CDF camps near the India-Myanmar border remain unclear. Myanmar Now attempted to contact ZRA via e-mail regarding the raids on the two CDF camps, but has not received a response.

The Zomi Political Coordination Committee—the ZRA’s political wing—posted on its social media page on August 31 that the ZRA had succeeded in repelling armed men attempting to disrupt the stability of the township, in a reference to the raid on the CDF camp that day. 

The ZRA has also been involved in clashes with the CNA since 2021. In addition, before the most recent incidents, the ZRA had raided camps set up by anti-junta Chin resistance forces in Chin State at least three times.

These raids by ZRA, which have included CDF strongholds as well as camps for small anti-junta defence groups based in the Chin homeland, occurred despite the ZRA’s Eastern Command issuing a public statement of support for the resistance against Myanmar’s military dictatorship in April 2021. 

The CDF said in a public statement in 2021 that if the ZRA continued to attack groups fighting against the military regime, the retaliation would be severe. However, the ZRA carried out yet another attack in September 2021 on a meeting convened to plan the formation of a local anti-junta resistance group in Tedim Township. 

Tonzang Township, a hilly area, borders Manipur and Mizoram State in northeastern India. According to figures published by Myanmar’s General Administration Department in 2019, the township has a population of over 35,000.

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