Myanmar junta strikes two bases of ethnic Kokang army in northern Shan State

The Myanmar army suffered several casualties while launching offensives against bases belonging to the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in northern Shan State’s Hsenwi (Hseni) Township in recent days, a spokesperson for the Kokang ethnic armed organisation said.

Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 568, under Military Operations Command (MOC) 16, reportedly first attacked an MNDAA post near Nam Sa Lat village on January 13, leading to a short but brutal battle some 18 miles east of Hsenwi town. 

“They retreated after 15 minutes of fighting,” the MNDAA spokesperson told Myanmar Now of the junta’s forces.

Map showing the location of Hseni, also called Hsenwi, in northern Shan State

One Kokang soldier was killed and up to four injured, he said, claiming that there were at least 30 casualties on the side of the Myanmar military.

The morning after the clash, the junta sent several vehicles, including ambulances, to retrieve their injured and dead personnel from the battle site.

At around 11:30am on January 14, troops from another Myanmar army unit—LIB 501 under MOC 1—ambushed a second MNDAA base around 15 miles southeast of Hsenwi town, but retreated after two hours of fighting. 

The MNDAA claimed to have not suffered any casualties in the second attack. 

Information on deaths that the military may have suffered was not available at the time of reporting. 

Tension remained high in the area following the junta’s withdrawal, according to the Kokang armed group’s spokesperson. 

“Battles have come to a halt for now. I haven’t heard anything about new battles taking place, but we are keeping watch,” he said.

Graduation ceremony for the troops of the newly formed Brigade 611 of the MNDAA on January 3 (The Kokang)

The MNDAA’s Brigade 211 is active in Hsenwi Township, where the clashes took place. In recent months, the Myanmar army has also targeted other MNDAA bases, attacking sites in Muse and Laukkai townships but failing to seize the posts.

Earlier this month, the ethnic armed organisation announced that more than 1,200 troops from a range of ethnic nationalities had completed combat training in order to fight in the MNDAA’s new Brigade 611. The unit was formed one year ago and welcomed trainees from across Myanmar who were committed to joining the armed resistance movement aimed at toppling the junta. 

The MNDAA refused to disclose further information about the activities of the brigade. 

In a January 10 article in local media outlet the Shan Herald Agency for News, analyst Sai Wansai said that the move allowed for the MNDAA to “upgrad[e] its political involvement” from the regional to the national level while “aiding the resistance forces in general in fighting the military junta.”

He added that Brigade 611 would likely operate “broadly within the northern Shan State.” 

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