Junta forces overran two resistance camps near the northern Sagaing Region town of Tamu last week in a bid to prevent anti-regime groups from strengthening their positions along the India border.
The first attack took place on September 11 and targeted a People’s Security Team (PST) base located near the village of Nanmuntar, just outside of Tamu.
“The PST camp had weaker manpower and the junta army used heavy artillery, so the PST members had to retreat,” said Thang Say, a senior member of the local People’s Administration Team.
“The troops who overran the camp would have discovered the detention cells there,” he added.
The PST operates as a law-enforcement agency in areas under the control of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG).
On September 16, another raid was launched on a base operated by Battalion 4 of the Tamu District People’s Defence Force (PDF), which is also under NUG command.
“The junta army came in four columns with superior manpower, so they were able to attack and burn down our camp. But we didn’t lose any of our members or any weapons,” said the battalion’s information officer.
However, several PDF fighters were injured while resisting the attack, which was carried out using artillery and drones, he added.
The military has been launching offensive operations along the Kale-Tamu highway since early September. The highway is strategically important because Tamu is a major trading hub on the border with India.
“Regarding border trade and everything else, if the revolutionary forces continue to dominate these villages along this road, the junta’s administration will be affected a lot,” said Thang Say.
“This is why they’re sending a lot of troops from Kalay to conduct an offensive in the area with their allies.”
According to the Tamu District PDF Battalion 4 information officer, PDF troops attacked a joint force of junta soldiers and members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia near Kalay on Monday.
The regime forces were reportedly extorting money from motorists while inspecting vehicles exiting Kalay, the information officer said.
No further details about the incident were available at the time of reporting.
The PDF has at least three district battalions based in Tamu Township. A number of other anti-regime groups, including the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Freedom Ranger Tamu, Fighter Police CDM Tamu, Burmese Students Organization, and the Tamu Township People’s Defence Team, also operate in the township.
All of these groups were targeted by regime forces during a series of raids carried out in November of last year, forcing hundreds of their members to flee across the border into India.
In March, the military carried out a two-day assault on a Tamu District PDF Battalion 1 camp near the village of Kun Taung, killing three of its members in a series of airstrikes.
In addition to the Pyu Saw Htee, the military is also believed to be receiving support from the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA), an ethnic armed group that frequently clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State and parts of northern Sagaing Region, including Tamu Township.
When contacted by Myanmar Now, SNA spokesperson Colonel Sai Say confirmed that the group had been active recently near the villages of Mintha and Thanan in northern Tamu Township. However, he also denied that the SNA was cooperating with the military’s operations in the area.
“We have activities in Mintha and Thanan, but we are separate,” he said, referring to the SNA and the junta army.
In the months after the February 2021 coup, the SNA offered support to youths who had joined the armed resistance movement against the newly installed regime. However, it later appeared to switch sides, although the group has consistently denied this charge.
Last month, the KIA—which has strongly backed the anti-regime resistance movement—captured an SNA camp in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township, along with two junta outposts.
Major clashes between regime and resistance forces were also reported near the town of Khampat in southern Tamu Township in July.