Resistance force claims capture of junta soldiers after extended battle in northwest Myanmar

A local defence force in Sagaing Region’s Pinlebu Township reported that they took “several” Myanmar army soldiers prisoner after more than 10 days of fighting ended this week. 

The clashes—with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) fighting alongside the defence force against the military—started near Ka Pan Tar Ya village on March 30 and stopped by April 10, according to an officer in the local Pinlebu resistance group. 

He said that some 13 people, including both civilians and members of the resistance, were killed. The military also reportedly suffered major casualties. 

The officer did not disclose the number of junta troops taken prisoner after the fighting. However, photos from a source close to the resistance and seen by Myanmar Now suggested that eight soldiers were captured, including officers ranked as major and lieutenant.Myanmar Now was unable to obtain comment from the KIA on the battles. 

Ammunition and items seized from the captured Myanmar army soldiers (Supplied)

The clashes in Pinlebu began after the military launched an airstrike on the area following an attack on Yin Thar village, where resistance fighters had been sheltering, the defence force officer said. 

“We were on the defensive when they started attacking us and it resulted in a clash. Then, we attacked the junta forces in the town [of Pinlebu],” the officer said.

Fighting continued there, he explained, claiming that resistance forces managed to seize control of some buildings where soldiers and police had been stationed, including the fire department. 

Ultimately, the guerrilla fighters were forced to retreat on April 10 due to continued air attacks and the arrival of daily troop reinforcements. 

“They just started relying solely on airstrikes, so there was nothing else we could do. That’s why we had to withdraw,” the officer added. 

Around 150 soldiers were already stationed in Pinlebu Township when the military staged a coup in February last year. That number had grown to 500 at the time of reporting, the defence force officer told Myanmar Now. 

More than 1,000 locals from at least four villages around the township were reportedly displaced due to the recent series of clashes, with many in need of medical help.

“Some of them caught colds due to the changing seasons. There are also elderly people, people with hypertension, and pregnant women. Some of those women had to give birth while fleeing,” the officer in the Pinlebu defence force said. 

Mobile internet access has been cut off to the majority of Sagaing’s townships since late 2021, including Pinlebu, making it difficult to confirm details of on-ground reports of violence. 

Pinlebu Township is surrounded by hills and located next to Mohnyin Township in Kachin State. 

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