Myanmar rebels claim control of key town near Chinese border

Laukkai town//Photo by Myanmar Skyline

A Myanmar rebel alliance group has gained control of a key town along the country’s volatile northern border with China after weeks of fierce fighting with junta troops, it said in a statement late on Friday.

The “Three Brotherhood Alliance”, as the group is known, said it took over Laukkai town after the military’s regional headquarters located there surrendered.

The fall of Laukkai is the latest victory in a sweeping offensive by an alliance of rebel groups that began in October and has become the most significant threat to Myanmar’s military government since it seized power in a 2021 coup.

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“All Kokang (Laukkai) region has become a land with no Myanmar Military Council anymore,” the statement said.

A junta spokesman did not respond to calls from Reuters seeking comment.

The alliance comprises three groups with extensive fighting experience – the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Arakan Army (AA).

They were accompanied by individuals from the loosely organised People’s Defence Force, supported by Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG), suggesting that the rebellion is taking on an increased level of coordination and planning.

Armed conflict between the military and rebel groups has surged in Myanmar’s north since late October. Neighbouring China, which has facilitated dialogue between the two sides, has called for a ceasefire.

The capital of Myanmar’s restive Kokang region, Laukkai has a reputation as a gambling den and a hub for online scam operations. China, a key junta ally that also has close relations with some ethnic Chinese militias along the frontier, has grown increasingly frustrated in recent months by the Myanmar’s junta lack of action on closing down the scam centres.

by Reuters

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