Burma: Armed groups continue their offensive in the north

The armed alliance of minority ethnic groups behind an ongoing offensive in northern Burma, which borders China, seized several military posts on Saturday, according to local media.

This week, fighting has intensified in large areas of northern Shan State, near the border with China, forcing more than 23,000 people from their homes, according to the UN.

The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) claim to have seized dozens of outposts and four cities and blocked important trade routes to China.

According to local media, TNLA fighters took control of two outposts manned by pro-regime militias near Lashio, the largest city in northern Shan State, on Saturday.

The MNDAA said it had seized three military outposts further east.

The junta has yet to comment on Saturday’s clashes, but on Thursday a spokesman dismissed claims that armed groups had seized several towns in Shan State as “propaganda”.

AFP journalists were detained on Saturday in China’s Yunnan province at a police checkpoint about fifty kilometers from the border post of Chinshwehaw, over which the Burmese military admitted on Wednesday that it had lost control.

More than a dozen ethnic groups operate in Burma, especially in border regions, demanding more political autonomy, control of a portion of the country’s natural wealth or lucrative trafficking.

Some of them trained and equipped the armed groups formed by political opponents that spread across the country after the 2021 coup and the repression that followed.