A resistance fighter smashes the signboard for the Moebyel police station on May 23 after it was seized that day by members of the local People's Defence Force.
A resistance fighter smashes the signboard for the Moebyel police station on May 23 after it was seized that day by members of the local People's Defence Force.

A ‘day of conquest’ as police station seized amid heavy fighting in Kayah, Shan

By AFP

Dozens of members of the junta’s security forces were killed on Sunday, fighters in a civilian resistance group said, amid heavy fighting in Kayah and southern Shan states.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the February 1 putsch, as the military uses lethal force to crack down on dissent.

The civilian death toll has climbed to at least 815 people, according to local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The violence has pushed some in the anti-junta movement to form militias armed largely with homemade weapons to fight back against the security forces. Several of these groups have declared themselves chapters of the People’s Defence Force, an embryonic national resistance army.

There were clashes in eastern Myanmar over the weekend, particularly in Kayah’s Demoso town, and across the state border in southern Shan.

People’s Defence Force member Ko Thet Wai (not his real name) said at least 20 police officers died on Sunday and his side seized a police station in Moebyel town in Shan.

The police station was burnt down and resistance fighters also took four security force members into custody, local media reported.

“Today is a day of conquest,” Thet Wai, 29, told AFP.

“But I am also worried because we have seen air strikes and tanks today. They have much better weapons than us.”

He said the Tatmadaw had launched helicopter air strikes in the evening at Demoso, a town in Kayah about 40 kilometres south.

Another civilian fighter at Demoso said at least 13 Tatmadaw soldiers had been killed on Sunday, while four of his men were wounded.

“We intended to seize their police station, but they used air strikes and we could not stop their reinforcement trucks getting into the town,” he said.

“We had to withdraw our troops from fighting.”

The fighting continued through Sunday night, according to a senior leader of the Karenni National Progressive Party – an ethnic armed group based in Kayah.

He confirmed that the military was using tanks, helicopters and mortar attacks in Demoso and Loikaw, the Kayah state capital.

Meanwhile, junta chief Senior General Min Aun Hlaing, who removed the civilian administration of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from power in the coup, gave a two-hour interview to Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television, with the full programme yet to air.

In a snippet released on Sunday, he offered reassurances to Chinese investors after a spate of arson attacks at factories in the commercial capital Yangon.

“Our citizens don’t hate China,” he said. “It happened for political reasons.”

Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since she was placed under house arrest on the day of the coup.

She has been hit with a string of criminal charges including flouting coronavirus restrictions during last year’s election campaign and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies.

Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to appear in person in court on Monday for the first time, after weeks of delays to her legal case.

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