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NLD official-turned-resistance fighter killed in junta clash in southern Myanmar 

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party chair for Tanintharyi Region’s Kawthaung Township was killed in a junta attack on the local anti-regime People’s Defence Force (PDF) last week, Myanmar Now has learned. 

Thet Naing, 40, was one of the first of many party members and leaders to be slapped with an arrest warrant for incitement following the February 2021 military coup which ousted the elected civilian NLD government. He then joined the armed resistance movement aimed at toppling the junta in his native Kawthaung. 

On March 4, he was one of nine casualties in the attack on the PDF force of which he was a member, near Waing Din village, where they had set up a temporary base. 

A Kawthaung Township NLD member confirmed Thet Naing’s death to Myanmar Now. 

“We saw some news come up on pro-junta lobby channels, but we didn’t believe it. We could only confirm it after contacting our local branches,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the Kawthaung District PDF Battalion 1, who goes by the alias Hlyat See, said that six members of his group were killed in the clash, including a column commander named Myit Chaung, as well as three members of other allied groups.

“Our hearts break for our comrades, but we are not despondent. We will pay back this blood debt,” he told Myanmar Now.

Renewed battles have been breaking out between the Kawthaung PDF’s Battalion 1 and the Myanmar army in Kawthaung since mid-February. Tension escalated after the PDF and its allies released a joint statement on February 19 claiming control over three villages, including Waing Din. 

Clashes followed two days later, causing casualties on both sides. Residents fled the area, including around 230 people who crossed the nearby Thai border, according to resistance fighters. 

A man with ties to the displaced persons said that while some had since returned, at least 70 people from Waing Din remained in Thailand’s Ranong Province, located opposite Kawthaung, and claimed that local groups had provided them with food. 

The military council has not released any information on its activities in Kawthaung Township. 

Tanintharyi Region remains a resistance stronghold, with anti-regime forces primarily operating in Dawei, Myeik and Kawthaung Districts. 

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