Anti-junta resistance forces in Myanmar joined up with an ethnic rebel group over the weekend and took over a military outpost in Chin state near the Indian border, killing 12 regime soldiers in the firefight, sources told RFA.
A coalition of about 400 combatants of the Chin National Army (CNA), and newly organized Chin Defense Force (CDF), were able to overrun the sparsely manned outpost Saturday evening in Chin State’s Thantlang township.
The CDF was formed by citizens who took up arms following the military takeover of the country Feb. 1 that oustied Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government.
They joined forces with the CNA, the armed group connected to the Chin National Front (CNF), a nationalist political organization that advocates for Myanmar’s Chin ethnic minority. Since its foundation in 1988 the CNA had been fighting against the Myanmar military, but it signed ceasefire agreements in 2012 and 2015.
Eight members of the CDF lost their lives in the attack over the weekend, according to local outlet The Irrawaddy.
Ronoe Lian, a CDF spokesperson in Thantlang, told RFA that the clash over the base in Lungler village lasted two days.
“A combined force of the CDF and CNA laid siege to the camp on the evening of Sept. 10. There was a four-hour-long battle that day, and at around 1:00 p.m., a jet fighter flew by twice, then circled the surroundings and bombed four times,” Ronoe Lian said.
The junta air support bombed the area about nine or 10 times that day, Ronoe Lian said. A report in the local media outlet Myanmar Now said the coalition that first attacked the base numbered about 200, but they retreated after the arial bombardment. The next day they returned in greater numbers.
“On the second day, we battled for over five or six hours. Finally, we overran the camp, seized all the ammunition and set it on fire,” Ronoe Lian said.
He said that the coalition were able to acquire ammunition and small arms stored in the camp, which was located just across the border from Mizoram state in India. The camp had been manned by 12 soldiers and had not received reinforcements in months.
The CDF told RFA that after the base was taken over, military helicopters were spotted in the area, likely on reconnaissance missions.
CNA spokesman Salai Htet Ni told RFA that the fighting could intensify because the military will likely bring in reinforcements to the area.
“The military can put a lot of pressure here. What we know is that they are sending reinforcements to this region, and we have heard that they plan to wipe out all CDF movements statewide,” Salai Htet Ni said.
“That’s why we are expecting bigger clashes. We think this is going to happen,” he said.
About 1,000 people living near the base fled toward the Indian border when fighting began Saturday, sources told RFA.
“People from Longler village and two other nearby villages are fleeing to safety to avoid the fighting,” a resident who requested anonymity for security reasons told RFA.
“Some people fled their houses before the battle started. Later on, more people fled toward the border,” the resident said.
Salai Za Op Lin, the deputy executive director of the India-based Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) told RFA that about 1,000 civilians fled to Mizoram in recent days.
“Most of the villagers have fled to safety. This morning, when they saw military planes flying nearby, many of the villagers were terrified. We heard that a lot of the villagers left their homes after Sept. 10, when the military planes showed up,” Salai Za Op Lin said.
“They fled toward Kyainseng village in Mizoram, but there are also some people who are taking refuge nearby, an estimated 5,000 in total,” he said.
The CHRO said more than 30,000 people have fled from Chin state to Mizoram since the coup. The military has responded by setting up road checks in many areas, which could cut of certain parts of the state from supplies and cause food shortages.
Junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun was not available for comment.
The attack on the outpost came days after Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) on Sept. 7 urged supporters to engage in a nationwide revolt. Interim President Duwa Lashi La called for for the complete overthrow of the junta.
Since then, the country has seen an increase in clashes between soldiers and citizens defense groups all over the country.
In the seven months since the coup, security forces have killed 1,089 civilians and arrested at least 6,477, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)—mostly during crackdowns on anti-junta protests.
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