Myanmar army’s clashes with TNLA, PDF allies escalate in Mandalay Region, northern Shan State

The Ta’ang ethnic armed group faced repeated attacks on its bases in Muse and Kutkai townships but carried out successful assaults outside Mogok, where it was joined by PDF fighters

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and allied forces stormed a temporary army base in Mandalay Region on Tuesday while the military continued shelling and bombing villages and TNLA bases in northern Shan State. 

Members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) joined the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in a 5am attack on an army unit stationed in the village of Yae Htwet Gyi in western Mogok Township, Mandalay Region. 

“We knew that  a force of about 50 enemy soldiers had arrived in the area, so our troops went there to fight them. We saw some enemy bodies and we were able to seize some weapons,” said La Yaung, a commander of Mogok PDF Battalion 1223. 

The one-hour battle took place about five miles west of Mogok’s urban area. Three members of the anti-junta force—comprising TNLA Battalion 666 and PDF Battalions 1221 and 1223—were reportedly injured in the clash.

The PDF confirmed that some junta soldiers were killed in the battle but could provide the exact number. A civilian woman from Yae Htwet Gyi was receiving treatment after being hit by a stray bullet but was in stable condition, according to the PDF.

The TNLA said in a public statement on Wednesday that a fierce battle had taken place near Yae Htwet Gyi that morning, during which anti-junta forces managed to seize weapons and ammunition from the army. 

Weapons, ammunition and equipment seized by the allied TNLA-PDF forces in a battle near Yae Htwet Gyi village, Mogok Township (Supplied)

On Monday night, a day before the fighting in Yae Htwet Gyi broke out, two junta soldiers had been killed when they triggered explosives laid by anti-junta forces near their security checkpoint about 18 miles from Mogok, according to PDF battalion commander La Yaung. 

Since early September, two PDF battalions based in Mogok have been fighting the junta’s army in the township alongside the TNLA, in a joint operation under the name “Moe Lone Hmine”—Burmese for “overcast sky.”

Fighting has spread over a wider area in Mandalay Region as the TNLA and PDF have made more attempts to take over junta base camps. 

Clashes between the TNLA and the junta army have broken out repeatedly in recent weeks. The military resorted to deploying airstrikes amid clashes with the ethnic armed organisation in northern Shan State’s Muse and Kutkai townships earlier this week.

A junta aircraft dropped four bombs near Mankan and Nam Ngu villages in Muse Township on Monday at around 10pm. Two highly destructive 500-pound bombs were reportedly dropped on a TNLA base camp on Loi Mauk Hill, just over 20 miles from Mankan Village, damaging some structures in the camp. 

TNLA spokesperson Lt-Col Tar Aik Kyaw told Myanmar Now on Wednesday that Loi Mauk Hill camp is only a remote, temporary headquarters for the armed organisation’s Brigade 1, and that there were no deaths among the TNLA fighters from the airstrikes. 

The previous day, the TNLA released a statement saying that junta aircraft had opened fire and dropped four bombs, including one 500-pound bomb, on the village of Ngawt Ngar in Kutkai Township.

“We do not have a base near Ngawt Ngar village. It is not a place where fighting has taken place. Therefore, we know they are deliberately attacking civilians. Our team is not there, so we cannot confirm the extent of harm to the public yet,” Lt-Col Tar Aik Kyaw said. 

At least five artillery shells fired by junta Infantry Battalion 123 based in Nam Hpat Kar village, Kutkai Township landed near Ngawt Ngar at around 10pm on Tuesday, forcing local residents to take cover in nearby trenches, according to a resident of the neighbouring village of Mong Yu Lay. 

“I heard they had to sleep in the trenches all night,” he said.

Ngawt Ngar villagers taking cover from junta airstrikes in trenches (Supplied)

Junta-controlled newspapers reported the next day that an 11-year-old child had been injured when the TNLA deliberately shelled Nam Hpat Kar using heavy artillery.

Since early September, the junta army has carried out multiple assaults on a TNLA base near a road frequently used by border traders between Muse Township’s 105-Mile Trade Zone and Kutkai Township, located on high ground some three miles from Hko Mone village.

The army has also attacked the TNLA base on Loitayhmine Hill, a strategically important site near the Muse-Namhkam Road, about 10 miles from Muse.

The TNLA claims to have engaged in battle with the army 49 times already in August and September. 

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