Multiple junta administrative offices torched in Karen State border town

Several junta offices in Karen State’s Payathonzu town burned down on Monday night after being targeted in arson attacks by an area resistance force, according to local sources and media reports. 

The military council’s city development committee and general administration offices—located in front of an army base on Bayinnaung Rd—and those for immigration and military intelligence, across from the town’s market, were destroyed in fires set after 8pm, at which time gunfire was heard by area locals. 

“All of the places that were torched were reduced to ashes, and six or seven shops that were connected to the general administration office were also destroyed,” said a resident of Payathonzu, which is located in Kyainseikgyi Township near the border with Thailand.

The Payathonzu Guerrilla Force (PGF) claimed responsibility for the attack in an interview with local media outlet The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, urging the staff of the junta’s administrative mechanism to leave their jobs and join the Civil Disobedience Movement aimed at toppling the regime.

The remains of a junta office that was destroyed in the January 23 fire (Supplied)

Further clashes erupted in the area following the arson. The Lion Battalion Commando—which operates under deposed Karen National Defence Organisation leader Saw Nerdah Mya’s new Kawthoolei Army—ambushed multiple junta columns coming from Kyainseikgyi town towards Payathonzu.

Shops in Payathonzu were closed until Tuesday afternoon, a local woman told Myanmar Now, adding that the Myanmar army soldiers had been seen patrolling the town. 

“Everyone’s still on high alert,” she said.

The Karen National Union (KNU), the People’s Defence Force and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) also operate in the surrounding area, which falls under the KNU’s Brigade 6 territory, known as Dooplaya District.

On January 21, the military carried out an airstrike that destroyed the house of DKBA leader Col A Wan near Payathonzu. 

Frequent battles have broken out near Payathonzu since the February 2021 coup, with the military targeting civilian homes, mines, and a monastery in the area. 

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