Military sends reinforcements to Demoso Township, Karenni State

The military council has sent reinforcements and reconnaissance aircraft to Karenni (Kayah) State’s Demoso Township after suffering heavy combat losses last week, according to a spokesperson from the Karenni Military Information Centre (KnMIC), the communications wing of the anti-junta Karenni Army. 

According to a KnMIC statement on Saturday, more than 90 junta soldiers were killed and at least 50 injured in battles between March 20 and 23 in Daw Ta Ma Gyi village, Demoso Township. The office also released photos of weapons captured from the junta. 

Khu Nye Reh, KnMIC’s spokesperson and the home affairs minister for the Karenni State Administration Team, told Myanmar Now on Sunday that the military had also deployed reinforcements to Ta Nee Lar Le village, some 20 miles north of Daw Ta Ma Gyi, and that some scouting aircraft had also been spotted in the area.

“We still don’t know how many of them are there right now as they are still inside the village. They always operate in ‘tactical teams’ made up of three battalions, so it’s certain that at least three battalions were sent to the village in the north,” said Khu Nye Reh, referring to Ta Nee Lar Le.

Some 330 junta soldiers from Infantry Battalion (IB) 12, Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 516 and LIB 515—operating under Military Operations Command No. 2 based in Mong Nawng, Shan State—initiated an attack in eastern Demoso Township on March 8.

For three days starting on March 20, the same junta column clashed with fighters of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), and sustained heavy casualties. However, Myanmar army soldiers remained active in the area after the fighting, according to a KNDF information officer. 

“Junta columns are still operating around that area. Their aim is apparently to annihilate eastern Demoso completely,” he said.

The military has been seen running supply lines to its frontline bases near the Thai border in Shadaw, Bawlakhe and Mese townships, as well as to Demoso. At the same time, fighting and violence have intensified in the nearby Shan State townships of Pekhon and Pinlaung since late February.

The latest available information indicates that no battles have broken out in the area as of Tuesday afternoon. 

The military council has made no public statements regarding the battles in Daw Ta Ma Gyi. However, in an address marking Armed Forces Day on Monday, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing declared that the military would take decisive action against ethnic armed organisations aiding the National Unity Government.

According to Khu Nye Reh, more than 7,000 civilians from Ta Nee Lar Le, Daw Ta Ma Gyi and other nearby villages have fled their homes due to the battles.

“The people are facing great hardship. It’s the hot season, so water is getting scarcer,” he said. “They’re also in need of medicine, food supplies and shelter. They’ve been forced to move around from one place to another, so it’s very hard for them.”

According to the Karenni Human Rights Group, there are currently some 250,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Karenni State and Pekhon Township, Shan State, which borders Karenni State to the northwest.

Khu Nye Reh said that his organisation and other anti-junta forces were anticipating retaliation from the military, and further hardship for IDPs. 

“It appears that they’re deliberately choosing areas where displaced people are concentrated because we usually stay close to them. There’s no other option but to fight back,” he said. 

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