Myanmar confirms a key northeastern city near China has been seized by an armed ethnic coalition


BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s military government has acknowledged that it has withdrawn its troops after the capture of a key town on its northeastern border with China by a coalition of ethnic armed groups it has battled for months.

The Three Brotherhood Alliance took control of Laukkaing late Thursday after Myanmar military forces surrendered their weapons and were allowed to retreat, both sides said Saturday.

Pictures and videos on social media showed huge quantities of weapons that the coalition claimed to have captured.

Laukkaing is the capital of the Kokang Self-Administered Region, which is geographically part of Northern Shan State in Myanmar.

The Three Brotherhood Alliance consists of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army. The MNDAA is a military force of the Kokang minority, who are ethnic Chinese.

political cartoon

The primary goal of the Coalition offensive, launched on 27 October, was to capture the city.

Myanmar government spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun told pro-army website Popular News Journal on Saturday that the army and its local commanders relinquished control of Laukkaing after considering several factors, including the safety of soldiers’ family members. Are posted there.

He said the military also took into account Myanmar’s ties with China, which is just across the border from Laukkaing. China, which has good relations with both the military and the ethnic alliance, is calling for an end to the fighting.

Beijing protested on Wednesday after artillery shells fell on its territory, injuring five people. Zaw Min Tun said the coalition had fired the shells and tried to blame the military for damaging his relationship with China.

The coalition announced in a statement posted on social media late Friday that the entire Kokang area had become a “Military Council-free zone.”

It said 2,389 army personnel, including six brigadier generals, and their family members had surrendered till Friday and all were evacuated safely.

Video clips circulated on social media reportedly showed soldiers and their family members being taken away in various vehicles. Shwe Phi Mya News Agency, an online news site reporting from Shan State, reported that many of them were taken to Lashio, the capital of the northern region of Shan, under an agreement with the MNDAA for their repatriation.

The city’s fall to the coalition is the biggest in a series of defeats for Myanmar’s military government since the beginning of the offensive, underscoring the pressure it faces as it battles pro-democracy guerrillas and other ethnic minority armed groups across the country. .

Ethnic armed organizations have been struggling for greater autonomy for decades, but Myanmar has been plunged into civil war since the military seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021, sparking nationwide armed resistance Is. Democracy Force.

Whether the Three Brotherhood Alliance will try to expand its offensive outside Shan State is not yet clear, but it has vowed to continue the fight against military rule.

The coalition framed its aggressive stance as a struggle against military rule and an effort to rid the region of major organized criminal enterprises, including cyber scam operations controlled by Chinese investors in collusion with local Myanmar warlords, particularly in Laukkaing. China has publicly called for an end to the large-scale criminal industry and has deported thousands of people involved in it back to China in recent weeks.

But the offensive was also widely recognized as an attempt by the MNDAA to seize control of the Kokang Self-Administered Region by removing the rival Kokang group, backed by the military government, from its seat of power.

MNDAA commander Peng Deren said in a New Year’s speech published by The Kokang, an affiliated online media site, that the coalition had seized more than 250 military targets and five border crossings with China. He said more than 300 cyber scam centers were raided and more than 40,000 Chinese people involved in cyber crimes were deported back to their country.

Copyright 2024 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Source link

Leave a Comment