Intense battles between junta troops, the Kachin Independence Army and joint People’s Defense Forces have killed 40 civilians, locals told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday.
Fighting in northern Myanmar has surged for four days as allied resistance forces and junta troops fight for control over Shan state’s Mongmit city. Junta airstrikes and heavy weapons are responsible for civilian deaths, residents who witnessed battles said.
Fighting began last Thursday, when the Kachin Independence Army captured Mongmit Police Station and junta camps in the city, and ended on Sunday. The military retaliated with heavy arms and indiscriminate airstrikes, burning Mongmit market and causing high civilian casualties, locals said.
Most victims were from the southern neighborhoods of Mongmit, said one resident who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
“We can’t say the number of the people who died in the neighborhood yet. For sure, the southern neighborhood has the most deaths, including Let Hkoke Tan and Haw Nan,” he said. “I can estimate that there are almost 40 dead and they all are civilians.”
One local who fled the city on Saturday told RFA he witnessed the deaths of civilians and junta soldiers while fighting raged in the city center. He has since seen casualty lists circulated.
“I saw four dead civilians. I can confirm that one military officer and about seven junta soldiers were dead when we left the city,” he said, asking to remain anonymous to protect his identity. “I don’t know the current situation of the city because the phone lines are down now.”
At least 10 people were injured and are being treated at nearby village clinics, he added.
Continuous aerial attacks and shelling damaged and destroyed houses downtown and in the city’s south, locals said, adding that homes near the police station were burned down.
About 150 shops in the market caught fire and several monasteries were also damaged by heavy artillery, according to residents.
Calls to Shan state’s junta spokesperson Khun Thein Maung and national spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun by RFA to learn more went unanswered Wednesday.
Kachin Independence Army spokesperson Col. Naw Bu said he could not confirm details about the battles due to phone line outages in the area. Telecommunication and internet access have been cut off in Mongmit city where fighting occurred. More than 10,000 people have fled the city, residents said.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.