Bawlakhe, May (17)
Fighting in the stronghold of anti-regime Kayah State has spread to the military town of Bawlakhe in two years of coup, the local resistance forces told Than Lwin Times.
Fighting has intensified between the junta army and the Karenni resistance group in the townships of Demoso, Mesae, Shar Taw, and Hpruso in Kayah State, and the military council has relinquished most of the territory.
Loikaw and Bawlakhe townships are areas under strict military rule, but since early May, the fighting has expanded to Bawlakhe.
On May 1, the alliance of People’s Defense Forces targeted locations in Bawlakhe where members of military council were stationed, including the veterans’ office, immigration office, police station, and broadcasting station.
According to the Bawlakhe PDFs, the raid killed seven soldiers, injured about 20 others, and seized weapons and ammunition.
It is reported that after the PDF’s attack on Bawlakhe town, the junta army started firing at the neighborhoods with heavy weapons and even dropped bombs with drones.
With the fighting spreading to the military town of Bawlakhe, the military council’s health, education, and administrative mechanisms came to a halt, and the non-CDM employees fled to Loikaw, U Banyar, the chairman of Karenni State Consultative Council and Human Rights Council, told Than Lwin Times.
There are rumors that the cost of moving some non-CDM staff to Loikaw by helicopter is up to Ks 250,000 per person, although Than Lwin Times has not been able to independently confirm this.
“At present, the military council has blockaded Bawlakhe, not allowing the residents to leave the town, and sending reinforcements. There are three military regiments in Bawlakhe,” Nyay Yae, the Minister of Education of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), confirmed to Than Lwin Times.
Junta battalions such as Light Infantry Battalion 377, 430, and 429 and the military strategic settlement unit of Loikaw’s Regional Operations Commands (ROC) and Division-66 are stationed on Bawlakhe.
The military council’s mechanisms could operate in Loikaw, Bawlakhe, and Sha Taw townships in Kayah State until 2023; however, the junta has now controlled only Loikaw, said the resistance forces.
The military council announced on February 2 that it would impose martial law in the townships of Demoso, Hpruso, Shar Taw, and Bawlakhe, where fighting is still raging.
More than 200,000 people have left their homes in Kayah State, which is home to a population of nearly 300,000, because of conflict between the regime troops and the revolutionary forces.
News- Than Lwin Times
Photo- Bawlakhe PDF