TNLA seizes last junta base in northern Shan State town of Namkham

After overrunning a military camp in a pagoda compound, the Ta’ang ethnic armed organisation is expected to next attack a junta hilltop base just outside of the town

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and its allies took control of the last Myanmar military base in the northern Shan State town of Namkham on Tuesday morning, with the ethnic armed organisation claiming to have seized nearly 30 types of weapons in the assault.

The group’s attack on the site, located in a pagoda compound in the city centre, started at around 2pm on Monday afternoon and lasted for some 16 hours. 

On Tuesday, the TNLA’s information department reported that its forces had killed Myanmar army soldiers and militia members that had been hiding in the compound. While the TNLA did not release information regarding the number of casualties, local sources claimed that 13 junta soldiers were slain and three were taken prisoner. Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify these figures. 

A resident of the town—the whole of which was under TNLA control at the time of reporting—said that the pagoda compound was damaged in the fighting, as well as shops in front of the location. 

The military’s last stronghold in the area is reportedly around one to two miles outside the town, on Sakhan Thit hill; the Namkham local who spoke to Myanmar Now said that he believed the TNLA would also strike that base. 

“We just don’t know when they will do it,” he added.

TNLA troops on patrol in Namkham after taking over the town (TNLA)

Located on the Shweli River and 20 miles from the strategic trade town of Muse on the Myanmar-China border, Namkham has a population of more than 100,000. It was not known how many of the town’s residents had fled the fighting at the time of reporting, but according to local sources, the majority had stayed behind. 

Another battle reportedly broke out between the TNLA and the junta’s army on Tuesday near Se Lant village, located between Namkham and Muse. 

Beginning in the last week of October, the Brotherhood Alliance—comprised of the TNLA, the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA)—began carrying out a sweeping offensive against military targets across northern Shan State, dubbed Operation 1027. Since then, the alliance has overrun more than 120 junta camps and bases, captured around 100 Myanmar army soldiers, and taken control of the towns of Chin Shwe Haw, Hpawng Hseng, Pang Hseng, and Hsenwi. Allied resistance forces also seized district seat Kawlin in Sagaing Region on Monday. 

Despite repeated junta airstrikes, forces under the AA’s leadership seized the military’s tactical hill base at Pan Lone, south of the Muse Township town of Mongko, over the weekend. The commander of Light Infantry Division 99, Col Aung Kyaw Lwin, was reportedly killed during the battle.

More than 30,000 people have been displaced throughout northern Shan State by the recent fighting. The price of food and basic commodities has also increased in the region, as roads remain blocked by resistance forces trying to cut off the arrival of junta supplies and reinforcements. 

With many of the battles taking place near the Chinese border, China’s government released an official statement on Tuesday confirming that casualties had also occurred on its territory. Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, did not mention the causes of death, the number of people killed, or their locations. He said that China objected to these casualties, and would continue to closely follow the developments in Myanmar.

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