KNLA Forces Dislodge Military Council Troops from Friendship Bridge No. 3 After a Day-Long Battle

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – April 20 Scenes
MoeMaKa, April 21, 2024

KNLA Forces Dislodge Military Council Troops from Friendship Bridge No. 3 After a Day-Long Battle

The vicinity of Myawaddy Town is controlled by several armed groups, including the KNU/KNLA, DKBA, the BGF-transformed KNA group, KNU/KNLA (PC), and some remnants of the military council. The primary forces are expected to be the KNU/KNLA and the KNA.

The situation in Myawaddy Town has been uncertain in recent weeks. Although there is some information about the positions of armed groups, much remains unclear, including which groups may support each other.

It is still unknown whether the BGF/KNA armed force, mainly led by Saw Chit Thu, remains loyal to the military council, will cooperate with the KNU/KNLA against the military council, or will pursue its own interests.

On the night of April 19, reports indicated that joint forces of the KNU/KNLA and PDF were attacking the remaining troops of the Military Council’s IB-275 near the bridge by dropping drone bombs. On April 20, it was reported that the two sides had been fighting all day, and by evening, the KNU/KNLA claimed to have completely removed the remaining troops of IB-275 from Bridge No. 2. However, it remains unclear whether the military council forces were defeated or voluntarily withdrew. Residents of Mae Sot reported hearing the sounds of fighting on the night of April 20.

Throughout April 20, the Military Council conducted airstrikes using planes and helicopters, dropping hundreds of bombs according to residents who fled and observers on the Thai side. The Military Council’s propaganda channels claimed that the IB-275 troops were being assisted by groups formerly known as BGF but now called KNA, although this has not been confirmed on the ground.

Some residents of Myawaddy and nearby areas crossed into Thailand via the Thaung Yin River on April 20 due to the intensifying fighting. Reports indicate that Thai border guards have blocked some gates, though it is unclear whether this is for security reasons or other purposes. On the Mae Sot side of Thailand, over 11,000 people have fled from Myawaddy in recent days, with about 3,000 crossing via Bridge No. 1 and more than 8,000 through the Thaung Yin River.

Thailand has been anticipating potential fighting near Myawaddy, and the former Thai foreign minister stated that arrangements were being made to accommodate up to 100,000 people fleeing from Myanmar.

Before Thingyan, the KNU/KNLA attacked and captured military and strategic camps around Thin Gan Nyi Naung. While there has been no fighting within Myawaddy yet, the military council’s administrative functions, such as police, immigration, tax, and trade offices, remain staffed, and civilian employees are still present at Friendship Bridge No. 1.

In other words, although the military council’s armed forces are no longer present in Myawaddy, the administration has not yet been fully handed over to another armed group. There are speculations that the KNLA, BGF/KNA, and DKBA might share control of Myawaddy. However, no armed group has officially announced control over Myawaddy Town.

Myawaddy is a significant hub in border trade between Thailand and Myanmar, with substantial revenue generated from tax collection, making it an attractive target for armed groups seeking control.

Another factor is the protection provided by armed forces to gambling businesses, such as casinos in Myawaddy and nearby areas, from which they receive taxes. These areas are also linked to casino and online fraud businesses.

From this perspective, the battle for Myawaddy seems to be driven more by financial interests than purely military success and honor.

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