Myanmar junta suffers heavy losses in KNLA-PDF attacks on bases in Karen State

At least 70 junta soldiers were killed last week in battles with resistance fighters belonging to the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) in southern Karen State, according to a KNLA officer. 

For six days starting on January 1, the allied forces launched a series of assaults on junta bases in Kyainseikgyi Township, which is located in the KNLA’s Brigade 6 territory, also known as Dooplaya District. Targets of the attacks included two Border Guard Force (BGF) posts and one tactical base in Taung Soon village, near the Thai border, as well as sites manned by Infantry Battalions 32, 283, and 284.

“At least 30 soldiers were killed during the attacks on the Kyainseikgyi junta bases, and at least 40 were killed during the assaults on the two BGF bases and the tactical base in Taung Soon,” the KNLA officer said.

The officer, who requested to remain anonymous, claimed that 11 troops from the PDF-KNLA alliance had also died in combat.

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the number of casualties on either side. 

A spokesperson for the Lion Battalion Commando Special Force, which participated in the battles as part of the anti-junta alliance, said that the resistance fighters were killed by airstrikes and heavy artillery fire, which have both been frequently deployed by the military in Kyainseikgyi and Kawkareik, which borders Kyainseikgyi to the north. 

Padoh Saw Liston, Dooplaya District secretary for the Karen National Union (KNU)—the political wing of the KNLA—said he was present when an Mi-35 junta combat helicopter bombed the Karen administration’s local command office at around 10:30am on January 5. 

“The toilet near the front office of the command was destroyed and a prisoner of war was grazed in the back but there was no other damage,” Padoh Saw Liston said.

The KNU confirmed that there had been an aerial attack on the district command but did not provide further details on the incident.

“Airstrikes have been more frequent in the entire state, and we believe the military even used Su-30 aircraft during a bombing incident a few days ago,” said a KNLA officer.

The military regime has previously deployed Su-30 fighter jets, procured from Russia, against ethnic armed organisations including the Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State. 

The recent fighting between the junta and KNLA-PDF alliance occurred less than one month after recent clashes in Kawkareik.

The military also bombed Kawkareik town from the air in October 2022 while fighting the KNLA and their allies, and carried out aerial attacks on territory controlled by the KNU’s Brigade 1 in Bilin Township, Mon State, in April 2022, destroying some buildings but not causing fatalities. 

The military regime typically withholds detailed information on combat engagements or casualties, but a junta-controlled newspaper claimed on January 4 that military forces had successfully fought off attackers in Karen State townships including Kyainseikgyi, inflicting heavy losses on the resistance.

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