At least four government soldiers were killed and several injured in Myanmar amid clashes between the military and a local defense militia in Chin state, residents said Tuesday, as fighting continued to intensify between the junta regime and the country’s ethnic groups in the aftermath of a February coup.
The killings of troops in Chin state, near the border with India, follows the downing of a military helicopter in Kachin state Monday and a series of attacks in other parts of Myanmar in mid-April in which outgunned civilians resisting the junta have taken up crude arms and killed more than two dozen security forces.
A member of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) told RFA’s Myanmar Service the militia attacked troops at two security checkpoints near the China state capital Hakha in retaliation for “oppressive checks and monitoring” of residents at toll gates, resulting in the casualties.
“We fired at them once earlier in the evening and there were no injuries on either side,” he said, noting that the engagement began around 5:00 p.m.
“But then, around 11:00 p.m., there was another clash near Hakha-Kalemyo junction. It was dark and no one on our side was hurt. Four of the soldiers were shot dead. Some soldiers were also wounded.”
Earlier on Monday, a group of young people in Hakha had chanted slogans and posted leaflets on buildings in support of the CDF, which soldiers later tore down, threatening to shoot anyone who took part in such activities.
A resident of Hakha told RFA that the evening’s attacks were in response to the military’s actions that day.
“In the evening, [the CDF] fired some shots at the soldiers in Kyauk-bote ward—it wasn’t meant to kill anyone,” he said.
“Then, around 11:00 p.m., there was a small explosion and gunfire erupted. One thing is for sure, there will be some dead … The clash lasted for more than an hour. The CDF hit the soldiers because they were harassing the townspeople the whole day yesterday. That’s what we heard.”
In addition to claiming responsibility for Monday’s attack, the CDF claimed that it had killed another four soldiers in a clash on Sunday.
Meanwhile, another militia known as the Kalay Region Defense Association (KRDA) said it shot and wounded three military troops on Monday in Sagaing region’s Kalay township.
A member of the group said those who took part in the fighting with troops “were not from one village, but from all neighboring villages,” and that a boy from the area is believed to have been arrested.
“The military withdrew around 8:00 p.m. in the evening and people who live near the main road, especially from Sedaw village, have fled their homes in fear of retaliation,” the KRDA member said.
“We heard three soldiers were hit, two seriously. Though there are some people moving around, there is heightened tension in the area.”
A resident of Kalay, who declined to provide their name citing fear of reprisal, told RFA that a brief clash occurred around 5:30 p.m., followed by a barrage of 40-50 gunshots in the town center at 9:00 p.m.
“One person was said to have been arrested. This morning, two or three police cars with passengers in civilian clothes were seen patrolling the town,” they said.
Other residents of Kalay said that more than 30 people have been killed and another 30 arrested in a series of violent clashes between protesters and the military in the aftermath of the Feb. 1 coup, although the junta has yet to confirm any of the incidents.
RFA was unable to reach Major General Zaw Min Tun, the Deputy Minister of Information of the Military Council, for comment Tuesday.
Militias in both Kalay and Hakha have been using traditional homemade rifles to fight against the military.
Police major killed
In Kachin state on Monday evening, the well-equipped Kachin Independence Army (KIA) stormed a police station in Mansi township, resulting in a three-hour battle that left the station’s chief, Hein Htet, dead and a police camp commander injured, according to a report by the KIA Information Center.
A resident of Mansi told RFA that the incident marked the first time fighting between the military, which was providing joint security at the station, and the KIA had occurred in the township since the February coup.
“Last night, the police camp commander and the township police chief went out. They visited a swimming pool owned by a wealthy man in town and ran back [to the station] when they heard gunshots,” the resident said.
“The gate was locked when they arrived there and wasn’t immediately opened. It was then that they got shot. The police chief was hit directly in the abdomen and the commander was grazed in the neck.”
Despite the clash, residents of Mansi were moving about as usual on Tuesday, however, traffic around the police station was restricted and witnesses said the military had erected heavy weapons outside the building.
Calls to the Military Council spokesman went unanswered on Tuesday, but Col. Naw Bu, the KIA’s information officer, confirmed the attack on the police station.
A political analyst in Kachin state said the situation in the region “is headed further towards a military conflict” following the coup, adding that “there is already plenty of military conflict in Kachin State every day.”
More than 100 clashes have occurred since fighting broke out between the military and KIA on Feb. 15. The KIA claims that the military has been targeting it with attacks for at least 30 days, including airstrikes. Two monks and 13 civilians have been killed in the recent clashes, according to local Kachin media outlets.
Three policemen were also killed early on Tuesday during a shootout between the military and members of the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) in Magway region’s Htilin township, a resident told RFA on condition of anonymity.
“There have been a lot of clashes between the two sides, in four or five places [throughout the township],” the resident said, adding that fighting began around 7:00 a.m.
“As far as we know, three policemen on their side were killed and a military vehicle was set on fire. Right now, the situation is favorable for the People’s Defense Force. There are no casualties on the part of the people.”
RFA received reports that both the military and PDF suffered casualties in the fighting, and that residents of nearby villages had fled the area but was unable to independently verify the information.
On Monday morning, two people were killed, and three others injured in a shootout between troops and the PDF in Htilin’s Htanbin Gone village, according to residents. One villager was arrested by the military.
NLD lawmaker dead
Casualties during the prior 24 hours in Myanmar were not limited to those that resulted from armed conflict.
On Monday night, a bomb blast ripped through a building in in Kambila village, in western Bago division’s Pyay township, killing a resident, as well as three policemen who had defected to Myanmar’s anti-junta Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and Thet Win Hlaing, a member of parliament with the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
A resident confirmed that all five died in the explosion, adding that Thet Win Hlaing—who had won his seat in parliament in the country’s 2020 elections—was hiding in the structure with the CDM members to avoid arrest by the military.
A friend of Thet Win Hlaing told RFA that reports a bomb had gone off while the lawmaker was testing it were untrue.
“A policeman who had joined the CDM earlier had withdrawn and a parcel sent by this man exploded,” the friend said.
The lone survivor of the blast had his hands amputated at the 500-bed hospital in Pyay, residents said, adding that they had heard explosions in three parts of the township on Monday night, although RFA was unable to confirm the claim.
Locals said there were bomb blasts in three parts of Pyay last night, but RFA could not confirm the details.
Also on Monday, Thet Paing, the newly appointed administrator of West Ward No. 7 in Yangon’s Thaketa township, was stabbed to death by three unidentified men who entered his home in the night, a resident told RFA. He died on the way to the hospital, the source said.
Thet Paing was recently appointed administrator by the Military Council and had served as a junta informant who had taken part in the arrest and torture of the ward’s residents, sources alleged.
Several explosions occurred in other areas of Myanmar on Tuesday, but no one was reported killed or injured.
Meanwhile, protests continued Tuesday in several townships throughout the country in support of the parallel, civilian National Unity Government (NUG) in Myanmar, formed on April 16, and against the junta, including in the capital Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, and Magway regions, as well as in Tanintharyi and Kachin States.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar (AAPP), security forces have killed more than 760 people across the country since the coup. More than 3,600 people have been arrested, while authorities issued warrants issued for more than 1,400.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.