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KIA advances on Kachin Power Hub

It takes 4 towns, 80 junta bases in 2 months

Published : 09 May 2024 10:49 PM

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and its allies are reportedly attacking Myanmar’s junta in Momauk and Mansi townships in Kachin State as regime forces regroup in neighboring Bhamo.

On Wednesday, the KIA said it entered Momauk and seized a police station. After several days of attacks, junta troops withdrew from the town, said a KIA officer. He said junta outposts remained elsewhere in the township, including Light Infantry Battalion 437 and two artillery battalions.

Fighting was reported on Wednesday evening and Thursday within the township.

“We have not seized the whole of Momauk and Mansi as the regime still occupies bases,” said KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu.

Momauk is to the west of Laiza, where the KIA headquarters is based, and spans mountains northeast of the Military Operations Command 21 and other bases in Bhamo.

In Mansi Township, to the south of Bhamo, the Light Infantry Battalions 319 and 601 headquarters and some outposts are still held by the regime.

The KIA and its allies, which includes the Kachin State People’s Defense Force, other resistance groups and the Arakan Army are now threatening the junta power hub in Bhamo from the northeast and southeast.

The KIA’s recent attacks began on March 7, targeting the Bhamo-Myitkyina road. Clashes have been reported in Momauk, Waingmaw, Myitkyina, Mansi, Sumprabum and Tanai townships.

The KIA has occupied Dawthphoneyan, Lwegel, Hsinbo and Sumprabum towns and more than 80 junta positions.

The junta is reportedly regrouping its defeated forces from around Laiza in Bhamo, according to the KIA.

Col Naw Bu said: “Most of the defeated junta troops from across Kachin State are gathering inside Bhamo, preparing to strengthen the town’s security.”

Meanwhile, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and allied resistance forces have seized four towns and over 80 junta military outposts and bases in Kachin State since launching a sweeping offensive against regime troops in northern Myanmar two months ago, according to statements from the ethnic armed organization.

The KIA, the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), and allied forces launched coordinated attacks on junta targets along the Bhamo-Myitkyina Road on March 7.

Since then they have seized over 80 outposts and bases, including at least 11 battalion headquarters along the road in Momauk, Waingmaw and Myitkyina townships, and in Mansi, Sumprabum and Tanai townships, which are located north of Bhamo. The four towns seized are Dawthponeyan, Lwegel, Hsinbo and Sumprabum.

Dawthponeyan, a sub-township within Momauk Township, was the first of the four towns to fall. It was captured by the KIA and its allies a week after the campaign was launched, following resistance forces’ seizure of junta military bases in and around the town, including the headquarters of Infantry Battalions 142 and 237.

The KIA and its allies, including People’s Defense Force (PDF) groups, the Arakan Army (AA) and other groups, took control of the entire town of Lwegel, in Momauk Township, on March 28 after seizing all of the outposts around the town, a key trade hub on the Myanmar-China border.

Two months into the operation, Hsinbo town became the third to fall to the KIA after resistance forces seized Infantry Battalion 141, the last remaining junta base there.

On Sunday and Monday, the KIA and allied forces took control of Sumprabum Township after seizing 13 junta military outposts, including an important strategic hilltop base that had been manned by Infantry Battalion 46.

“As we were able to seize that strategic hilltop outpost, we have been able to take control of Sumprabum town, where regime offices are situated,” said KIA spokesperson Colonel Naw Bu.

A political and conflict analyst said seizing Sumprabum town enabled the resistance to cut the junta military’s supply routes between Myitkyina and Putao, increasing the KIA’s chances of seizing Putao town as well.

In addition, the KIA and its allies launched an attack on the junta’s Gidon mountaintop outpost in Waingmaw Township, seizing it at around 8 a.m. on Monday.

The mountaintop outpost was originally a KIA base that had been seized by the Myanmar military in December 2016. It is located in a strategic position on the Myitkyina-Bhamo Road, according to the KIA.

The combined Kachin resistance forces continue to fight against the junta’s military and are now expanding the offensive into Bhamo Township, where the junta’s Military Operations Command 21 is based.

On Tuesday, the KIA and its allies seized three junta military outposts around Sin Khan Village and near the Sin Khan Bridge over the Irrawaddy River. On the same day, they also seized the bases of militia groups and other junta military and police outposts in Waingmaw, Momauk and Mansi townships.

The KIA also seized and took control of Injanyang town in Myitkyina District on Nov. 21, 2023 without firing a shot after the junta’s forces fled and abandoned the town near the border with China. Added to the towns seized since March 7, the KIA has taken control of five towns in Kachin State.