New Year Marred by Tragedy and Conflict

**Myanmar Spring Chronicle – January 02, 2024 by MoeMaKa Media:

New Year Marred by Tragedy and Conflict**

As Myanmar steps into the dawn of 2024, the specter of violence and loss looms large, with the new year bearing witness to a continuation of the strife that marked the preceding year. Reports emerging from various regions paint a grim picture of ongoing battles, artillery assaults, and civilian casualties, underscoring the relentless nature of the conflict.

In northern Myanmar’s Sagaing Division, Kawlin, a town captured by the People’s Defence Force (PDF) in November, became the tragic backdrop of recent events. The military council’s Wuntho Artillery Battalion unleashed a barrage of fire, claiming at least 6 lives and leaving around 15 individuals injured, according to VOA Myanmar. Kawlin, currently under the control of the People’s Administration and People’s Defence Force (PaKaFa) groups aligned with the National Unity Government (NUG), witnessed the onslaught at a bustling market. The indiscriminate attack, notably in a civilian-populated area, resulted in the loss of innocent lives, including children.

The military council’s tactics of aerial bombardment, shelling, and long-range artillery assaults on towns captured by ethnic armed groups have been alarmingly evident. The recent tragic incident in Kawlin echoes the warnings expressed during discussions between the 3 northern Brotherhood Alliances and the military council in Yunnan Province, China. Lieutenant General Min Naing from the National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee (NSPNC) highlighted the military council’s intent to use sophisticated aerial attacks, undermining prospects for peace. Brigadier General Ta Bone Kyaw of the TNLA emphasized this point on social media, shedding light on the military council’s vengeful approach even during peace talks.

The 3 northern Brotherhood Alliances have achieved significant territorial gains, with a total of 11 towns, including Namhkam, Hsenwi, Namhsan, and Manton in north Shan State. However, these captured areas remain vulnerable to relentless aerial assaults from the military council. Recent weeks have witnessed targeted bombings of the police station in Hsenwi and multiple airstrikes on Namhkam, resulting in civilian casualties and extensive property damage.

The onset of 2024 unveils pockets of intense fighting across various regions, including the military council’s attempts to reclaim the ChaungHnaKhwa Bridge in Kyaikmaraw Township, Mon State; clashes between Kokang troops and the MNDAA in Laukkaing, the capital of the Kokang autonomous region; confrontations along the Union Road in northern Shan State around the town of Kutkai; battles in Natthankwin and Penwegon in Bago Division; and skirmishes in Kawkareik Town, Karen State. Meanwhile, in Rakhine State, the Arakan Army (AA) strives to gain control of the strategically significant Tinma hill in Paletwa.

The broader conflict is not limited to ethnic armed areas, as military council troops extend their aggression to villages, resulting in civilian casualties. In the Madaya Township of Mandalay Division, central Myanmar, troops entered a gravel factory, killing the 70-year-old owner and six workers. In response, the Mandalay-based PDF has shifted its bases and initiated counterattacks against the military council troops.

As the reports of fighting, aerial assaults, and civilian killings permeate Myanmar at the dawn of 2024, the grim reality signals a continuation of the struggles that have plagued the nation. The escalating humanitarian crisis, with internally displaced persons (IDPs) reaching more than 5 percent of the population, adds to the somber outlook for the year ahead.