Karenni forces suffer heavy losses in fight for control of southern Shan State outposts

At least 10 Karenni resistance fighters were killed on Monday during an attempt to seize control of two military outposts in southern Shan State, according to members of some of the groups involved in the offensive.

The outposts, located on a pair of hills in northern Pekhon Township, came under attack from a coalition of Karenni resistance groups at around 5am on Monday, sources said.

About an hour into the ensuing battle, the Karenni forces were preparing to overrun the outposts when regime reinforcements suddenly arrived and started firing heavy artillery.

“There were only three or four soldiers still fighting, but when the reinforcements got there, we had to retreat,” a member of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), one of the groups that took part in the operation, told Myanmar Now.

A member of the Pekhon People’s Defence Force (PDF), which was also part of the allied force, said that 10 KNDF and Karenni Army troops were killed and more than 20 were injured.

“The military fired three shells, one after the other. We didn’t have a chance to seize any weapons. We barely managed to get out of there with our own weapons,” he said.

He added that neither the Pekhon PDF nor the allied Shan State Revolutionary Youths group lost any of their members in the counterattack.

The number of regime casualties was unclear, but the Karenni forces estimated that there were around 50 junta troops stationed at the two outposts when they mounted their attack.

According to the Pekhon PDF member, locals were forced to use their vehicles to take five dead soldiers and three others who were severely injured to the hospital.

Shelling continued through the day, he added. By 6pm, regime forces had reoccupied the two outposts, located about 500m apart on the Kathe and Lwei Pa Thar hills.

“We lost so many men because of the difference in firepower. We don’t have heavy artillery like them,” said the KNDF member, who also called for continued public support for the struggle against military rule.

The KNDF says it has around 8,000 members, fighting in Karenni State’s Demoso, Hpruso, Loikaw and Bawlakhe townships and Shan State’s Pekhon Township.

According to the KNDF member, at least one local man from the village of Kone Sone was arrested on Monday, while two others from the same village were reportedly beaten.

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