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Fighting broke out in Kayah State on Thursday between resistance forces and the Myanmar military, killing several junta soldiers and injuring civilians. 

The first clash started at around 5am at a traffic junction just north of the state capital Loikaw. The 30-minute firefight erupted when junta troops entered an area controlled by Battalion 2 of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF).

“The soldiers tried to assault Battalion 2’s territory. That’s how the battle started,” said a KNDF officer who took part in the fighting. 

Around 15 junta soldiers died and several were injured during the clash, while the resistance fighters suffered no casualties, he said. People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters from an area near Pekhon Lake fought alongside the KNDF, he added. 

The KNDF said it seized several weapons from the military after the fighting ended.

Later in the morning, at 10am, resistance forces surprised Myanmar military soldiers who were preparing to launch their own ambush in Maing Lone ward, in front of the Loikaw Technological University. 

An officer from the Karenni Democratic Front (KDF) told Myanmar Now that his group joined the KNDF and another guerilla group called GZ 21 Loikaw to fight the soldiers. 

“I saw soldiers running away in sports shorts with my own eyes,” he said. “They were panicking so much that they couldn’t even take their weapons with them. We caught them by surprise.” 

At least 10 junta soldiers died or were injured in the attack, he added. “A civilian source told us that the dead soldiers were carried away in dumper trucks. Some of them were just injured, not dead. We don’t have the exact list of dead soldiers yet.”

At around midday, junta soldiers retaliated by firing shells into the ward, injuring two civilians including a blind man who was hit in the back by shrapnel. 

A witness said the blind man sustained a three-inch wound and was in a critical condition at the Loikaw General Hospital.

“The injury is serious. He is continuously coming in and out of consciousness,” said the witness.

Another civilian was reportedly hit by a shell near a golf course in Loikaw, but Myanmar Now was unable to gather further details.

Elsewhere in Kayah, the KNDF fought three junta columns throughout the day in and around a group of three villages. 

The fighting at Daw Poe Si, Milestone 5 village, and Sanpya Milestone 6 village raged from 8am until 5pm and killed eight junta soldiers, the KNDF said. 

The military used tanks and torched or destroyed at least four houses in Sanpya Milestone 6, according to the KNDF.

At around noon, three tanks were seen coming out of the Loikaw Regional Operation Command base in Narnataw ward heading towards Demoso, said a Loikaw local, citing a witness.

There were over 130 clashes in Kayah between May 19 and the end of December, with resistance forces killing 249 junta soldiers and injuring 149, the KNDF said. 

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