A coalition of ethnic armed groups in Myanmar said on Monday (Nov 13) that they had captured more than 40 security personnel, including a colonel, after a fierce battle with the junta forces in the country’s north-east. The fighting, which erupted on Oct 27, has been the biggest challenge to the military regime since it seized power in a coup in 2021.
The Three Brotherhood Alliance, composed of the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, said in a statement that they had seized 43 security personnel, along with weapons and ammunition, in the town of Kutkai in Shan state. They also claimed to have killed more than 100 soldiers and wounded more than 200 in the clashes.
The statement said that the captured personnel, who were being treated humanely, included a colonel, a lieutenant colonel, two majors, and two captains. It said that the colonel had confessed that he was ordered to launch an offensive against the rebels by the junta chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
The statement also said that the rebels had taken control of several towns and villages in Shan state, and had blocked the main trade routes to China, causing severe losses to the junta’s economy. It said that the rebels were fighting to defend the people’s rights and democracy, and to oppose the junta’s oppression and violence.
The junta has not commented on the rebels’ claims, but has acknowledged losing control of three towns in Shan state, including Muse, a major border crossing point for trade with China. The junta has also accused the rebels of being funded by the drug trade, and has vowed to crush them with air strikes and reinforcements.
The fighting has raised concerns among Myanmar’s neighbours, especially China, which has a long and porous border with Shan state. China has confirmed that there had been Chinese casualties as a result of the clashes, but did not give details. China has also called for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The conflict has also drawn attention to the plight of the people in Myanmar, who have been suffering under the junta’s brutal crackdown on dissent since the coup. More than 1,200 people have been killed and more than 10,000 arrested by the junta, according to a local monitoring group. Millions of people have also been displaced, facing food shortages, poverty, and disease.
The international community has condemned the junta’s actions, and imposed sanctions and diplomatic pressure on the regime. However, these measures have failed to stop the junta’s violence or restore democracy in the country. The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe and a potential civil war in Myanmar, and has urged the junta to engage in dialogue with the opposition and the ethnic groups.