Myanmar army, anti-junta groups both suffer losses as fighting for control of Thantlang resumes

An alliance of Chin fighters launched a costly series of assaults on junta bases in the town, which has been deserted by its civilian population since becoming a battleground after the 2021 coup

Fierce fighting broke out again this week in the northern Chin State town of Thantlang, which remains divided between areas occupied by the military and others controlled by anti-junta armed groups. 

Thantlang’s civilian population has mostly abandoned the town and been unable to return since an alliance of fighters including members of the Chin National Army/Front (CNA/F) and the Chinland Defence Forces (CDF) began battling the military for control of the area two years ago. 

At least three junta bases in Thantlang came under attack by the allied Chin armed groups on Monday. During the fighting, which began at around 5am and lasted most of the day, junta forces fought back using heavy artillery and airstrikes. 

In addition to carrying out airstrikes, the military also fired heavy artillery from the town of Hakha, located 20 miles east of Thantlang. According to CNA/F spokesperson Salai Htet Ni, 13 members of the allied anti-junta forces were killed in the fighting and at least 10 sustained injuries. 

He added that drone surveillance seemed to show that junta forces also incurred casualties during the clash, but this was still unconfirmed. The allied Chin forces reportedly succeeded in seizing some of the military’s weapons. 

The precise locations where clashes took place in the town have yet to be confirmed independently. The military council has not released any statements regarding the fighting. 

“The main thing was to prevent the junta forces from carrying out attacks, or being joined by reinforcements from Hakha,” Salai Htet Ni said. “That’s why we launched offensive operations against them.” 

He added that some of the Chin [resistance groups]  fighters had intercepted a convoy of three trucks carrying junta reinforcements to the base in Thantlang from Hakha, damaging one of the trucks, but the extent of the damage and other details are still unknown. 

Along with the CNA/F fighters, members of the Hakha, Thantlang, and Zophei chapters of the Chinland Defence Forces participated in the assaults on the military’s bases in Thantlang.  According to Salai Htet Ni, six of the fatalities from the fighting were members of the CNA/F and seven were members of the CDF resistance groups.

“We’re staying prepared, but so are they. So the armed clashes may continue,” Salai Htet Ni said.

Fighting in this area started about seven months after the February 2021 military coup, displacing 10,000 people in the township including virtually all of Thantlang’s 8,000 inhabitants, who have since been unable to return home due to the ongoing battles. 

Junta troops have repeatedly carried out arson attacks on the deserted town of Thantlang, leaving it completely destroyed. Resistance groups began to win back control over parts of the town earlier this year, and remained stationed in the parts of the town they succeeded in occupying. 

In a meeting held in Naypyitaw in July, military junta chief Sen.-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing directed his top officers and other authorities to intensify operations in order to regain control of anti-junta fighters’ strongholds in outlying areas of the country. 

Excluding only Paletwa Township, the military junta has imposed martial law in almost every jurisdiction of Chin State, one of the areas of the country where anti-regime forces remain strongest. 

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