ZOKHAWTHAR, India, Nov 17 – Early on a misty morning, a group of young rebels prepared to launch a daring assault on a military camp in remote Chin State, Myanmar. This audacious move marks the latest front in a mounting nationwide offensive against the oppressive junta that has gripped the country since the 2021 coup.
According to Suan, a 22-year-old rebel fighter who was one of the first to breach the camp’s defenses, the operation began by cutting through the fencing wire. As soon as they entered, the rebels were met with a hail of bullets. The intense battle raged on for nearly 12 hours, with the rebels ultimately capturing the Khawmawi military camp. Another camp at Rihkhawdar was also overrun by the insurgents within hours. These victories serve as a significant milestone for the grassroots insurgency that has been growing in Chin State since the overthrow of Myanmar’s democratically elected government.
The ethnic Chin fighters revealed that they leveraged drone technology to drop bombs on the military bases, while facing fierce resistance from the junta forces. The rebels encountered particularly intense resistance at Khawmawi, where mortar fire was directed at them. Lawma, a 26-year-old fighter who was wounded in the battle, described the determination of the remaining soldiers who, despite most of their comrades fleeing, remained defiant and fought fiercely.
Unfortunately, the assault came at a cost. At least nine Chin fighters lost their lives, and six junta soldiers were also killed in the battle. Suan and Lawma’s accounts were corroborated by a rebel commander and several witnesses from the region, offering a rare ground-level perspective on the widening conflict between the Chin rebels and Myanmar’s military junta.
While the rebels make significant gains on multiple fronts, the junta finds itself facing heavy assaults from three ethnic minority insurgent groups. These groups, collectively known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance, launched “Operation 1027” in late October, successfully wresting control of several towns and over 100 military outposts in Shan State, along the border with China. The Arakan Army, a member of this alliance, has also opened a new front against the military in western Rakhine State. Kayah State, which borders Thailand, is yet another region where the insurgents are pushing back against the junta’s forces. This mounting offensive is the most significant challenge the junta has faced since seizing power.
In response to the escalating rebellion, Zaw Min Tun, a junta spokesperson, acknowledged that the military was under “heavy assaults” from multiple fronts. The junta labels the rebels as “terrorists,” attempting to delegitimize their cause.
The rebels’ ingenuity and resourcefulness have played a crucial role in their recent victories. Lalchaka, a resident of the Indian border town of Zokhawthar near the overrun military camps, reported hearing gunshots followed by intensified firing once the rebels deployed drones to drop bombs under the cover of night. In the early days of the insurgency, Chin fighters struggled to obtain weapons and resorted to homemade guns. The rise of drone technology has significantly bolstered their capabilities, transforming their operations.
Despite the setback, the Myanmar military remains engaged in a relentless campaign to suppress the insurgency. The use of drones by the insurgents has become a cause for concern for the junta. According to reports, the rebels have been able to smuggle drones capable of carrying up to 6 kg (13 pounds) of payload. The use of drones has now become a prevalent tactic in most of the rebels’ operations.
In the aftermath of the battle, 43 junta soldiers sought refuge in India, crossing the border after the camps were overrun. Most of them were subsequently returned to Myanmar. At the Zokhawthar border crossing, Indian paramilitary soldiers now face off against armed Chin rebels proudly displaying their flag.
As the conflict escalates and both sides dig in their heels, the people of Myanmar anxiously await the outcome. The Chin rebels’ audacious incursion into remote military camps is just one chapter in a rapidly evolving and complex conflict that continues to unfold across the nation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the cause of the conflict in Myanmar?
The conflict in Myanmar stems from the 2021 coup, where the military junta overthrew the democratically elected government, leading to widespread unrest and resistance.
Who are the rebels involved in the conflict?
The rebels involved in the conflict are predominantly ethnic minority groups, such as the Chin rebels, Arakan Army, and other members of the Three Brotherhood Alliance.
How are the rebels using drones in their operations?
The rebels have leveraged drone technology to drop bombs on military bases, giving them a significant advantage in their assaults. These drones have been smuggled into the country and can carry payloads of up to 6 kg (13 pounds).
What is the current situation in other parts of Myanmar?
In addition to Chin State, other regions like Shan State, Rakhine State, and Kayah State are experiencing heightened conflict between the rebels and the military junta.
What is the junta’s response to the insurgency?
The junta refers to the rebels as “terrorists” and has described the situation as facing “heavy assaults” on multiple fronts. The junta is determined to suppress the insurgency and maintain control.