A junta convoy of some 40 trucks that had been travelling through Karenni (Kayah) State for three months reached the central township of Bawlakhe last week, after several attacks by local resistance groups caused significant delays to the approximately 50-mile journey that would have once taken less than a day.
It was not confirmed whether the vehicles had originally came from neighbouring southern Shan State or Naypyitaw, before then passing through the Karenni capital of Loikaw in August and travelling south on the main highway through the state, where they faced regular ambushes and at times found themselves stranded for over a month at a time.
The convoy passed through Demoso and reached Hpruso, around 20 miles south of Loikaw, in August and set up camp at the military’s Advanced Training Depot No. 14 near Markhayaw village until mid-September.
They then passed through Htarle village, more than 12 miles southeast of Hpruso town, on October 19 and 20, and arrived in Bawlakhe shortly afterwards, according to a spokesperson for the anti-junta Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF).
The military deployed up to 1,000 soldiers to villages along the convoy’s route to try to secure safe passage of the junta’s trucks, the KNDF information officer said, but noted that “frequent battles” had occurred along the road.
“We are assuming they are going to head towards Mese, through Hpasawng, from this point on,” he told Myanmar Now, referring to the township southeast of Bawlakhe on the Thai border. It has been under the control of resistance forces for around four months.
The KNDF has speculated that the military convoy, which is carrying ammunition and heavy weapons, may soon be attempting to retake the territory.
The nearest junta base to Mese is 10 miles away, in Pan Tein village.
Neither the military nor the resistance has released information on casualties in the recent roadside clashes. However, the KNDF said in a statement that there had been 29 battles in total in Karenni State in September, killing some 78 junta soldiers and nine KNDF troops.
Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the figures.