Junta forces attempt to retake hilltop base seized by resistance in Karen State

The military launches an offensive to try to drive out a resistance alliance after they overrun a strategic hilltop base held by the junta in Myawaddy Township

Military reinforcements sent to Karen State’s Myawaddy Township have, since Monday, been trying to recapture a base seized by resistance forces last week. 

Allied forces under the armed wings of the Karen National Union (KNU) and the National Unity Government launched an offensive against the Lat Khet Taung base in question, four miles south of Myawaddy town, on July 21. 

The Cobra Column and the Black Panther Column—both special operations units of the KNU and National Unity Government’s (NUG) People’s Defence Force—fought alongside the NUG’s Federal Wings drone force and collaboratively attacked the hilltop site, seizing several weapons and ammunition. A battle previously broke out at Lat Khet Taung on July 10, one day after the same resistance alliance overran an unnamed junta base between Myawaddy and Lay Kay Kaw towns. 

Padoh Saw Liston, secretary of the KNU’s Dooplaya District—where Myawaddy is located—told Myanmar Now that additional clashes broke out on Monday and Tuesday as the Myanmar army attempted to retake the strategic Let Khat Taung base. 

“It’s true that the enemy has come back, but there haven’t been any battles today,” he said on Wednesday.

The 100 junta soldiers involved in this week’s battles are from Light Infantry Battalions (LIB) 2 and 118, led by the commander of Light Infantry Division 44. They have suffered significant casualties, according to the resistance, and are stationed in the nearby village of Mitta Lin Myaing, which is dominated by the military-allied Border Guard Force.

Citing Cobra Column commander Dah Baw, the KNU’s Dooplaya District information department released a statement on Tuesday warning that fighting could reignite in the coming days.

“[The Myanmar army soldiers] couldn’t even get close to the foot of the hill and retreated after facing major casualties,” Dah Baw is quoted as saying. “They are now firing heavy artillery shells at the site and serious battles could break out any time.”

The weapons were reportedly fired from Mitta Lin Myaing, as well as the villages of Tone Tada and Thingan Nyi Naung. 

“Those bases are close to [Myawaddy] town, so it’s kind of scary. We keep hearing the sound of heavy and light weapons going off everywhere around us,” a resident of the area said. 

According to the KNU, a local woman was killed and a man injured during Monday’s clashes.

The commander of LIB 2 and his deputy were reportedly captured by the resistance forces during the fighting, and are being held in KNU custody in Kyaikhto Township, Mon State, but Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify this claim. 

In June, nearly 30 battles broke out with the military in Dooplaya District, the KNU said. Karen forces reported that some 46 junta troops were killed during the clashes, including a colonel and a lieutenant colonel. 

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