The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has seized at least 10 of the junta’s army bases since fighting escalated with the Myanmar military following the February 1 coup, according to local sources.
Clashes between the KIA and the regime’s armed forces have been ongoing since early March, when the KIA began to launch offensives to capture military bases and police stations in the Kachin State townships of Hpakant, Mogaung, Waingmaw, Putao and Tanai, as well as in northern Shan State.
Among the locations since overtaken by the KIA are the Alaw Bum and Ywathit military outposts in Momauk Township, as well as one police base; the Tan Khawn and Aungbalay bases in Hpakant; and the Nambyu base in Tanai.
“The KIA raided and seized around 10 bases, including small ones,” a Myitkyina resident and military observer said, adding that Kachin forces continue to maintain control over some locations, and others they destroyed. “They set fire to the military bases that they did not continue to occupy, so now neither force is at those,” the individual added.
He said that the military junta had not been able to recapture any of the camps they lost.
KIA information officer Col Naw Bu told Myanmar Now on April 21 that Kachin forces had seized some bases belonging to the junta, but that further details were unavailable, with fighting ongoing in multiple locations.
Much of the regime’s focus has been on regaining control of the strategic Alaw Bum hilltop base in Dawphoneyang sub-township of Momauk.
Since April 11, the junta has carried out repeated airstrikes against the KIA in an attempt to drive them out of Alaw Bum and areas controlled by KIA’s Brigades 8 and 9, but the military has reportedly suffered heavy casualties in the offensive, according to KIA sources.
These sources have said that hundreds of Myanmar military troops, including battalion commanders, were killed in the fighting, and at least one whole battalion– LIB 320– was wiped out.
Myanmar Now has not been able to independently verify these casualties.
A KIA officer told Myanmar Now that, at the time of reporting, more than 1,000 junta soldiers had been airlifted to Momauk Township as reinforcements.
Locals have noted that since a previous 17-year ceasefire with the Myanmar military broke down in 2011, the KIA had been largely fighting on the defensive; only since the coup had they started engaging in offensives against Myanmar’s armed forces.
“It is like the KIA is attacking places that they used to control in the past. The tension can only escalate from here,” a resident of Hpakant said.