The military has been intensifying both air and ground attacks on eastern Demoso Township in Karenni State since mid-May, according to members of local resistance groups.
While the area has been a target of the junta for the last two months, the recent series of attacks escalated on May 14 when a 200-soldier column assaulted the village of Ta Nee Lar Le, around eight miles east of the township’s administrative centre.
“Battles have been breaking out every day, both major clashes and airstrikes,” an information officer in the anti-junta Demoso People’s Defence Force (PDF) said. “There are two to three on-ground military columns attacking eastern Demoso and they have a large number of troops.”
Two fighter jets bombed the area three times on May 17, destroying seven homes and damaging a camp for internally displaced persons. Local news outlet Kantarawaddy Times reported that the aircraft dropped “highly destructive” 500-pound bombs.
As of Sunday, the battles had not stopped, and jets were seen passing over the area as recently as Monday.
There were reportedly several military casualties in the clashes over the past week as well two members of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) killed in a battle near Ta Nee Lar Le on May 19.
The slain resistance fighters were identified by their respective KNDF units as Benedict—also known as Aung Aung—from Battalion 7 and Nay Win from Battalion 1.
The local PDF spokesperson speculated that the military’s focus on eastern Demoso was an effort to secure passage of supplies through the area to junta bases in neighbouring townships.
“They appear to be making way for the transport of supplies to their bases in Bawlakhe, Mese and Hpasawng. That would explain the frequent clashes with the revolutionary forces in the area,” he said.
A May 17 junta airstrike on Saw Lon village in Bawlakhe Township killed a 17-year-old girl, injured four elderly people, and destroyed several homes. It was the third aerial attack on the township since April.