Military attacks Karen State’s Kawkareik from ground and air

The junta’s armed forces intensified an assault on villages in Karen State’s Kawkareik Township  by deploying heavy weapons on Monday morning, after shelling the area over the weekend.  

Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the spokesperson of the Karen National Union (KNU)—whose armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army’s (KNLA) Brigade 6 controls the territory in question—told Myanmar Now on Monday evening that the military fired artillery at villages in southeastern Kawkareik in the morning and fired on the area from a helicopter in the afternoon. 

“They continuously fired shells. They started shooting from the helicopter in the afternoon as well,” he said. “We still don’t know how many people got hit. The majority of the people that got hit were regular villagers.”

Clashes between the military and the KNLA also took place near the villages of Maungma, Ywar Thit, Myo Haung and Migathein at around 10am. 

A member of the local anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF), which has been fighting alongside the KNLA, said that the Myanmar army had been firing shells since 8am and opened fire from a helicopter for around 20 minutes at around 2pm. 

A fighter jet is seen during an airstrike in Kawkareik Township on January 10 afternoon (Klo FM)

He added that he was told by eyewitnesses that a fire had broken out in Ywar Thit. 

“We’re still not sure if the fire was caused by the shelling or by the airstrike. They fired shells as the helicopter hovered in the area,” he added.

Another local told Myanmar Now that fires were also spotted in Maungma, Myo Haung and Migathein, but that the extent of the damage was not known. 

“There were some fires in places where the shells fell. The shells fell not too far from the civilians’ houses. The monastery in Myo Haung village was completely ruined,” the local said. 

Accompanied by the military-allied Border Guard Force, Light Infantry Divisions 11 and 22 carried out the assault on Kawkareik. Firing long-range artillery, including 120-mm and 105-mm shells, was the Kawkareik-based Infantry Battalion 97 and Artillery Battalion 333, located three miles south of the township. 

The Kawkareik local claimed that two civilians were initially injured by shells fired on Sunday; one was reportedly a 17-year-old boy who later died of his head injury. 

According to a KNU statement on the military’s prior shelling of Myo Haung on Saturday, six women and one man were injured in the attack on the village.

Padoh Saw Taw Nee said that the military was targeting civilians nationwide in retaliation for major casualties of their soldiers in battles against the anti-coup resistance forces. 

“Their ground troops have been facing major casualties and they are now dropping bombs here and there from the air like this, hoping to raise their soldiers’ spirits,” he told Myanmar Now. 

Karen State-based news agency Klo FM reported on Sunday that around 2,000 residents from 13 villages had been displaced due to battles in Kawkareik, and that they were in need of humanitarian aid. 

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