TNLA claims control of nearly all of Namkham town

The ethnic armed organisation has been rooting out junta soldiers who remain in the northern Shan State town and attacking their last stronghold on Namkham’s outskirts

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has taken control of nearly the entire town of Namkham in northern Shan State, attacking the last remaining junta base there on Monday. 

On November 5, troops from the ethnic armed organisation seized the Namkham police station, the general administration office, and other junta-controlled offices. 

The town, with an estimated population of more than 100,000, is located along the Shweli River and the main trade route to the China-Myanmar border. 

The military’s last stronghold in the Namkham area is around two miles outside the town, on Sakhan Thit hill, according to a local from the town who said that gunfire could be heard near the site on Monday afternoon.  

“Residents are staying at home and shops are closed. Everyone is shocked. They are afraid of the planes coming,” he said, referring to the potential for junta airstrikes.

Weapons seized by the TNLA after storming the Namkham police station on November 5 (TNLA)

TNLA spokesperson Lt-Col Tar Aik Kyaw told local news agency Mizzima on Monday that the armed group was maintaining its hold on the town centre. 

“[Junta troops] are near Namkham, but inside the town, only our group exists,” he was quoted as saying.  

On Tuesday, the TNLA’s information department reported that its forces had killed Myanmar army soldiers and militia members that had been hiding in a pagoda in Namkham’s city centre and confiscated the dozens of weapons they had left behind. 

Pro-junta militias around Namkham were armed by the military in late September in an effort to stop the town from falling under the control of the resistance forces. Earlier that month, militia leaders from across northern Shan State met with junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in Lashio, where the Northeastern Regional Military Command is located, and arms were distributed weeks later. 

Meanwhile, in Mongko—northeast of Namkham and Muse and also located on the Chinese border—TNLA allies the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army reportedly captured four junta bases over the weekend. The three armed groups together make up a force known as the Brotherhood Alliance. 

MNDAA spokesperson Li Kyar Win told Myanmar Now on Monday that there were no battles around Mongko that day but that its offensive would continue. 

“There are still many junta camps that operate under Light Infantry Division 99 in Mongko. The junta camps that we captured before were the ones in the Hpawng Hseng area,” he said. “As for the Mongko strategic hill base and other junta camps around Mongko, we are currently in a situation where we are starting operations.” 

Some 13 junta soldiers were reportedly killed in an exchange of gunfire that followed a previous attack on a camp west of the hill; others fled. 

The military then launched an aerial attack on areas where fighting had occurred over the weekend, bombing Shin Kyaint village outside of Mongko, killing civilians including children, Li Kyar said. 

“I saw that the military council soldiers were losing the war, so they started shooting at villages,” he explained. “Three children and two adults lost their lives. One of the children was very young—four or five years old.”

Beginning in the last week of October, the Brotherhood Alliance began carrying out a sweeping offensive against military targets across northern Shan State, dubbed Operation 1027. 

The alliance claims to have captured four towns and more than 100 junta bases and outposts in the days since. A junta spokesperson recently dismissed these claims as “propaganda.” Resistance forces have launched assaults against the military in Myanmar’s central and northern areas at the same time and took control of the town of Kawlin in Sagaing Region on Monday. The move marked the first time in the anti-coup armed movement that a district-level administrative centre had been seized from the junta.

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