Myanmar, KIA shoots down junta helicopter in Momauk

The Myanmar military continued to launch lethal air attacks on villages in Kachin State’s Momauk Township after one of its helicopters was shot down by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on Monday.

KIA spokesperson Col Naw Bu told Myanmar Now that Kachin forces shot and destroyed a junta helicopter between the villages of Myo Thit and Kone Law in Momauk at around 8am.

“We shot it down during a battle. Fighter jets also came to the area,” Col Naw Bu said. “The battles are not on the ground—the military are launching airstrikes and using sophisticated weapons.”

After losing the helicopter, the regime’s armed forces continued its air attacks on Myo Thit, Kone Law and Si Hat villages, he added.

A 60-year-old man and a Buddhist monk, whose age was not known at the time of reporting, were killed in the strikes, local media reported. At least 10 villagers were injured, according to the Kachinwaves news outlet.

Fighting has intensified between the KIA and the military’s 77th Light Infantry Division in Momauk in recent days. A battle on April 29 killed 20 regime soldiers and led to a KIA seizure of junta weaponry, according to a KIA source.

The clash took place below Alaw Bum, a strategically important hill base that the KIA seized on March 25. The Tatmadaw has launched numerous air and ground attacks in a bid to reclaim it but has suffered heavy losses.

At the time of reporting, Alaw Bum was still in KIA hands.

The Myanmar military has also launched around 30 airstrikes since late March in Mutraw (Hpapun) District, Karen State. The territory is controlled by the 5th Brigade of the Karen National Union’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).

The airstrikes and heavy artillery fire, largely aimed at civilian targets, had driven more than 3,000 people to seek refuge across the border in Thailand as of Saturday, according to the Karen Peace Support Network.

The most recent round of regime air attacks followed the KNLA’s seizure of a junta base in the Thaw Le Hta area of Mutraw, across the Salween River from Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province, on April 27.

Many of the airstrikes have taken place near the Ei Htu Hta internally displaced people’s camp near the Salween River, forcing the camp’s population of more than 2,000 into hiding. Many are among the recent refugees in Thailand.

More displaced villagers from Karen State are expected to flee to Thailand if the regime’s airstrikes continue.

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