A handout photo made available by the KoKang media shows the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) soldiers clean the road near the border gate in Chinshwehaw, northern Shan State, Myanmar, 29 October 2023 (issued 03 November 2023). EFE/EPA/HANDOUT HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Myanmar opposition claims first town capture since 2021 military coup

Bangkok Desk, Nov 6 (EFE).- Myanmar’s self-proclaimed National Unity Government (NUG) Monday said its forces have taken control of a town in the country’s northern Shan state from the army.

It marks the the opposition’s first capture of a town since the military coup in 2021, which overthrew the democratically-elected government helmed by now-imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

“On November 6, 2023, Kawlin town, the capital of Kawlin District, Sagaing Region was captured by the People’s Defense Force (PDF) and allied forces,” NUG’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

“This marks the first-ever capture of a district-level city in a successful operation.”

The statement said several “key” government offices like the police station and local office of Myanmar Economic Bank were “secured and the junta’s administrative system was stopped” after NUG forces gained control of the town of nearly 20,000 people.

The NUG, partially formed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, said that its armed-wing has joined forces with an alliance of several ethnic armed groups to combat the Myanmar army in northern regions of the country.

On Oct. 27, the PDF and the Brotherhood Alliance – comprised of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) – announced a joint military campaign, code named “Operation 1027”, against junta forces in several cities in the northeastern Shan State, which borders China.

The allied forces claimed to have captured weapons and inflicted significant losses on junta forces during the operation.

The allies have announced that they would also eliminate illegal criminal gangs associated with junta generals that operate along the Chinese border, engaging in cyber fraud and who are also allegedly involved with human trafficking.

Beijing, whose Minister of Public Security recently visited Myanmar, has exerted pressure on the junta to dismantle people smuggling networks and ensure security along the border with China.

Hundreds of foreigners, including around 200 Thais, have been trapped in the border city of Laukkai due to the ongoing fighting.

The military coup, which ended a decade of democratic transition in the country, plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis.

It has also triggered a spiral of violence, particularly with the emergence of new pro-democracy forces joining hands with ethnic minority militias, exacerbating the country’s decades-long ethnic conflicts. EFE