Military Council’s Aerial Assault on Hsenwi and Laukkaing; Artillery Shelling Ravages Mrauk-U in Rakhine

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – December 25 by MoeMaKa Media

**Military Council’s Aerial Assault on Hsenwi and Laukkaing; Artillery Shelling Ravages Mrauk-U in Rakhine**

In a concerning escalation, the military council has intensified its offensive, launching air attacks on Laukkaing and bombarding Hsenwi, amplifying the toll on both civilians and cultural heritage.

Hsenwi, recently under the control of the MNDAA, faced severe destruction as the military council’s aerial bombardment hit residential areas. A press release from the MNDAA reported casualties, with two civilians confirmed dead and five others injured in the vicinity of Hsenwi police station. Since November, the MNDAA has gained control of Hsenwi, encouraging residents to return to their homes. However, the recent airstrikes resulted in civilian casualties and the destruction of houses, underscoring the peril faced by those caught in the crossfire.

Laukkaing, the capital of the Kokang Autonomous Region, bore the brunt of the military council’s heavy artillery on December 25. The attack claimed the lives of at least ten individuals, and while it remains unclear whether they were armed forces or civilians, the incident occurred in Tonchain Ward, where MNDAA troops are stationed. The Kokang Armed Forces reported an air strike on Olontont in the Kokang Autonomous Region on the same day, hitting an IDP camp and resulting in one fatality and at least five injuries.

The MNDAA’s strategic focus in the ongoing operation, initiated in late October, centered on the capture of Laukkaing. Commencing the attack on December 18, the conflict escalated with intense fighting and the military council employing heavy artillery. Due to the city’s proximity to the Chinese border, airstrikes are approached cautiously, with the military council emphasizing potential attacks near the border if deemed necessary.

In another distressing incident, the Mrauk-U Culture Museum, a repository of Rakhine State’s ancient cultural heritage, fell victim to heavy artillery fire. Housed within the historic palace of Mrauk-U, the museum sustained direct hits, causing damage to the roof and the valuable artifacts within. The prior day, military council battalions had targeted residential areas, resulting in the death of two civilians and the injury of a child.

Since the resumption of hostilities in Rakhine State in November, AA forces have targeted military council camps near Mrauk-U. The recent artillery shelling extended its impact to the Mrauk-U Culture Museum, a significant repository of the region’s cultural treasures.

Situated not far from the Eighty Thousand Pagoda Temple, Mrauk-U boasts numerous ancient buildings and pagodas of immense cultural value. The destruction wrought by heavy artillery strikes has deeply affected the local Rakhine community, lamenting the loss of their cultural heritage.

Despite the local populace’s concerns about the destruction of millennia-old heritage, the military council appears indifferent, viewing cultural assets as potential hostages in the ongoing conflict.