The junta launched aerial assaults on villages in southeastern Myanmar on Monday, targeting anti-regime resistance forces, which also carried out ambushes on military columns elsewhere in the region in the days prior.
The junta’s air force bombed the area between the villages of Dauk Pa Lan and Bawt Daing in Karen State’s southern Kawkareik Township five times on Monday morning. The territory, known as Dooplaya District, is controlled by the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Brigade 6.
The location targeted is around eight miles south of Kawkareik town, according to KNU Brigade 6 secretary Padoh Saw Liston.
He told Myanmar Now that the first bomb was dropped at around 9:30am, with a second following at 9:45, and two more striking less than five minutes after that. The last bomb reportedly hit at 11:15am.
“Considering how they dropped the bombs in the forest, I think they were aiming at places where they thought we would be occupying, or doing it as a threat to the communities there not to provide us with accommodation,” Padoh Saw Liston said later that day.
Further details regarding possible civilian casualties in the airstrikes were not known at the time of reporting.
A similar aerial bombing took place on Sunday near a site where displaced persons were sheltering east of Kawkareik, injuring three civilians, including a child.
Padoh Saw Liston said that the makeshift camp was located deep in the forest, but that its exact location in relation to the town was not confirmed.
Thirteen-year-old Naw Nandar Win was hit in the face by shrapnel, and Saw Hpa Htu Daw, age 44, was struck in the head, and Naw Naw Hla Htwe, 33, suffered injuries to her legs.
“The people’s hatred towards [the military] is growing deeper now,” Padoh Saw Liston said, referring to the public response to the airstrikes.
In October, members of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of KNU, attacked junta military bases in Kawkareik along with allied resistance fighters from the People’s Defence Force, which operates under the command of the publicly mandated National Unity Government.
The KNU’s Brigades 6 and 5—Hpapun (Mutraw) District—were targeted in some 57 junta airstrikes in January alone, according to the data released by the KNU.
Soon after the junta’s extension of a nationwide state of emergency in early February, the military council also declared martial law in 36 townships across the country known to be resistance strongholds, including Kawkareik.
On Sunday, north of Karen State, members of the ethnic armed organisation the Karenni Army and the Karenni Commando Force intercepted a 30-soldier military column under Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 135 in Karenni State’s Mese Township, near the Thai border.
Five junta troops—a squadron commander, a corporal and three privates—were reportedly captured alive during the subsequent clash between the forces, which occurred 15 miles south of Mese town, according to a statement by the Karenni Army’s Karenni Military Information Center (KnMIC).
The LIB 135 soldiers—based in Hpasawng Township—were reportedly travelling from Bawlakhe to Mese to deliver supplies to a Myanmar army unit posted at Border Point No. 12 when they were ambushed by the Karenni resistance.
“There isn’t a proper road to get to that border point, except for the old ones used by timber trucks in the past. But they can no longer be used,” said Khu Nye Reh, an officer from the KnMIC.
KnMIC reported that at least six Myanmar military troops were killed in the battle, and 10 managed to escape, with some appearing to have been injured. Karenni forces also were siad to have seized 10 rifles and ammunition.
Khu Nye Reh said that no civilians live in the area where the fighting took place.
One day earlier, Karenni resistance forces intercepted another junta column in Shadaw Township, more than 60 miles north of Mese. The regime soldiers who were targeted were travelling from Langkho (Langkhur) town in southern Shan State, which borders Karenni. Three troops were reportedly killed.
As the military attempts to resupply its frontline bases in the region ahead of the approaching hot season, they are facing increasing ambushes by opposition groups who are familiar with their routes and patterns, Khu Nye Reh explained.
“They frequently pass through here. They usually send six months’ or one year of supplies, even three months’ worth sometimes,” he said.
A total of 562 clashes have taken place in Karenni and southern Shan states since the military coup on February 1, 2021, according to data collected by the anti-regime Karenni youth group Progressive Karenni People Force. Some 1,900 junta soldiers and more than 200 resistance fighters were killed during this two-year period, it said.