On Monday, armed resistance groups opposing Myanmar’s military government captured a district capital in the northern region, following a four-day offensive during which they also took control of state offices and a police station. This marks the first time the resistance forces have seized an administrative capital, specifically Kawlin in Sagaing region, amidst the ongoing conflict that began when the military took control from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.
Sagaing has functioned as a crucial stronghold for armed opposition against military forces, leading to substantial retaliatory measures, including ground troop deployments, artillery bombardments, and airstrikes by the army. As a consequence of these operations, numerous villages have been devastated, and hundreds of thousands of residents have been forced to flee their homes.
It was reported that the resistance fighters successfully captured the Kawlin police station on the previous Sunday and, a day later, took control of a township administration office. By Monday morning, the resistance groups had gained control over the entire district.
The participation of the Kachin Independence Army and the Kachin Independence Organization among the resistance forces was noted. Additionally, the clashes resulted in the loss of over 20 military personnel and three resistance fighters, with the exact number of civilian casualties remaining unconfirmed.
An anonymous resident disclosed that approximately 30,000 people, including inmates from the local jail, were evacuated to forests and nearby villages by the resistance fighters to shield them from the threat of airstrikes
The clashes in that area commenced at daybreak on Friday, initiated by a coordinated assault conducted by a coalition of at least three regional resistance factions. This information was shared through reports published online by media organizations that support the resistance movement.
Media groups uploaded videos online, which they claimed depicted members of the resistance group removing the bodies of soldiers and police officers who had lost their lives in the battle from damaged structures.
As the intensity of the conflict increased, both internet and mobile services in the region were nearly entirely disrupted. Multiple residents of Kawlin, who had been away from the town, reported on Monday that they had been unable to contact their family members in the district capital by phone since the previous Saturday.
Furthermore, the United Nations expressed concerns regarding the significant escalation of hostilities in Myanmar.