KIA says it killed 20 soldiers from 77th Light Infantry Division while defending hill base

Twenty soldiers from the Tatmadaw’s notorious 77th Light Infantry Division were killed on Thursday during an attack by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Momauk township, a KIA officer said.

The clash took place at the bottom of Alaw Bum, a strategically important hill base that the KIA seized late last month. The Tatmadaw has launched numerous intense attacks in a bid to reclaim it but has suffered heavy losses. 

The KIA confiscated 18 weapons during Thursday’s attack, said the officer, who is familiar with the incident but asked not to be named because he is not a spokesperson. 

The Tatmadaw responded with six airstrikes but they failed to inflict any damage on the KIA’s side, he added. 

The 77th LID has been implicated in mass killings during the campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2017, as well as the murders of protesters in Yangon. 

The shock troops were sent to Alaw Bum as reinforcements after the Tatmadaw accidentally bombed one of its own units on April 24 during a clash between the KIA and the 88th LID, causing many casualties, the KIA officer said. 

The day after the friendly fire incident, the regime deployed three military units to attack Alaw Bum again and also launched airstrikes.

The KIA said it suffered casualties, though it did not specify how many, during several days of sustained airstrikes. But it said the military faced heavier losses.

On Thursday the KIA also launched an artillery attack near Waingmaw airport and hit a weapons warehouse.

The clashes have forced civilians to flee their homes. 

“Someone’s house was shelled in Kone Law village on April 28,” a Momauk local told Myanmar Now. “Everyone from the village is fleeing, except one or two who stayed to look after their homes.” 

One person was heavily injured and reportedly sent to the Momauk military hospital, he said, while another man from the nearby Nwam Lan village was also injured. “I heard he might have to have a hand amputated.”

There was another clash on Friday, he added. “They opened fire with artillery today but no jets yet.” 


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