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  • Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of Burma’s military government, said Friday that counterattacks are planned against successful ethnic rebel operations in the country’s northeast, according to state-run media.
  • Maj. Gen Zaw Min Tun also conceded that three towns on the Chinese border have fallen to rebel control.
  • “At this time, there are places that the government, administrative and security organizations have had to relinquish,” Zaw Min Tun acknowledged.

The leader of Burma’s army-installed government said the military will carry out counterattacks against a powerful alliance of ethnic armed groups that has seized towns near the Chinese border in the country’s northeastern and northern regions, state-run media reported Friday.

The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper quoted Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing as saying he told his Cabinet members that combined forces of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army attacked military outposts and government offices in the northern part of Shan state.

Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the ruling military council, acknowledged to state MRTV television on Thursday that the army had ceded control of the towns of Chinshwehaw, Pang Hseng and Hpawng Hseng on the border with China. Chinshwehaw is a major point for cross-border trade.


“At this time, there are places that the government, administrative and security organizations have had to relinquish,” Zaw Min Tun said.

Min Aung Hlaing was cited in the newspaper report as saying that transportation facilities and security force posts in the northern Kachin state had been attacked by another ethnic armed organization, the Kachin Independence Army, even though the group had been warned not to disturb peace and stability.

He told the Cabinet meeting that the military would conduct counterattacks against those who commit attacks on military camps despite his regime’s forging bonds of trust with ethnic minority groups, the report said.

A week ago, the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, calling themselves the Three Brotherhood Alliance, launched a coordinated offensive to seize military targets in the northern part of Shan state. The Kachin Independence Army, one of the stronger ethnic armed groups, capable of manufacturing some of their own armaments, is an ally of the Three Brotherhood Alliance.

The alliance’s offensive is seen as energizing the nationwide armed struggle to overthrow the military regime that was installed after the army seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi more than 2 1/2 years ago.

MNDAA flag raising

Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army members hoist their group’s flag over a captured army armored vehicle in Burma, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. ("The Kokang" online media via AP)

The army takeover was met with nationwide peaceful protests that were quashed with deadly force, causing the formation of an organized armed resistance movement with hundreds of local militia groups called People’s Defense Forces, or PDFs. The PDF movement has joined forces with well-organized, battle-hardened ethnic armed groups that have been fighting Burma’s central government for greater autonomy for decades, including the groups in the alliance.

Intense clashes have been reported since Oct. 27 in the Shan state townships of Kunlong, Hseni, Kyaukme, Kutkai, Lashio, Laukkaing, Muse, Namhkan, Chinshwehaw and Nawnghkio, as well as some areas in northern Kachin state and the northern part of the Sagaing region.

Le Kyar Wai, a spokesperson for the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, told The Associated Press on Friday that the alliance had seized over 90 military targets and that more than 100 members of security forces laid down their arms.

“We have fully prepared to resist the counter-attacks (of the military),” Le Kyar Wai said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a situation report published Thursday that the new round of fighting had brought to 37,400 the number of people displaced in northern Shan state. The armed conflict that began after the army’s 2021 takeover has made more than 1.8 million people homeless nationwide, according to the U.N.’s refugee agency.


The humanitarian affairs office also said the essential transit routes connecting northern Shan to China were obstructed and at least one vital bridge was destroyed.

China is Burma’s biggest trading partner and maintains good relations with the country’s ruling generals. The groups in the alliance also have good relations with China and have vowed to protect foreign investments such as Chinese-backed projects in territory they control.

China’s state news agency Xinhua, citing the spokesperson for Beijing’s Foreign Ministry, reported that when the ethnic alliance launched its offensive last week, China called on relevant parties in Burma to cease fire and settle disputes through dialogue.


Chinese State Council member and Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong also visited Burma and met on Tuesday with Min Aung Hlaing in the capital, Naypyitaw, where they discussed the border area situation.

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