“It hurts to talk about it. Now the military council has occupied the entire town. They are burning houses, buildings, rice mills and markets at will. Then they arrested all the residents who came into the town. They set fire to the buildings to arrest people who come into the town.” – A resident of Kawlin

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Caption – Military council forces set fire to wards in Kawlin on 13 February.

An interview with Ko Maung Maung (pseudonym), a resident of Kawlin, about the current situation after the recapture of the town by the military council and the situation within the town.

The National Unity Government (NUG) started public administration in Kawlin town in Sagaing Region after the town was captured by the allied forces consisting of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Arakan Army (AA), All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) on 6 November last year.

After three months under NUG control, the military junta launched a major offensive on Kawlin in early February this year, using overwhelming air and artillery power and took control of the town.

Shanni Voice conducted this interview with Ko Maung Maung (pseudonym), a resident of Kawlin who is close to the defense forces in the area, about the situation in the town after the recapture by the military council forces.

Q: There is news that the military council has recaptured Kawlin. Please tell us about the situation first.

A: Yes, that is correct. There have been no clashes between the two sides since 13 February. After the military council forces recaptured the town, the resistance forces had to retreat. The defense forces are now monitoring the situation from the outskirts of the town. Their military strength is not small. There are over hundreds or thousands of soldiers. They shelled the town with heavy weapons and bombarding it with large drones. They also carried out heavy airstrikes.

Q: What is the current situation in Kawlin after the military council recaptured the town?

A: It hurts to talk about it. Now the military council has occupied the entire town. They are burning houses, buildings, rice mills and markets at will. Then they arrested all the residents who came into the town. They set fire to the buildings to arrest people who come into the town. The fighting has stopped for the time being. The defense forces are still stationed on the eastern and western edges of the town. There have been no clashes so far.

Q: Were the resistance forces overwhelmed at the very beginning of the military council’s offensive on Kawlin and forced to retreat?

A: No. At the beginning of the fighting, the resistance forces were still able to defend. Even during the battle, the junta side suffered more losses. Later, the military council attacked with four columns from all directions. Their column from Wuntho initially succeeded in penetrating the town. From then on, they began to overrun the town, forcing the resistance forces into an unfavorable position.

Q: What is the situation of the residents who fled the fighting? Is there any chance for them to return to the town?

A: The displaced residents are in a very difficult situation. All the residents of the town were forced to flee and are now facing many difficulties. After the military dogs (junta soldiers) recaptured the town and started burning houses all over the town, some returned to the town to check if their houses were among those burned. Many of them encountered junta soldiers and were arrested. We have heard nothing from those arrested. It’s hard to talk about it under these circumstances because we can’t get reliable information.

Q: What else would you like to say about the situation in Kawlin?

A: The fighting remains quiet for now. Although the resistance forces initially controlled Kawlin, the military council reinforced its bases in Wuntho, Koe Taung Boet and Kanbalu. Pyu Saw Htee militias were also involved in the fighting. They attacked with overwhelming force, leaving the defense forces with no choice but to retreat. Moreover, the town was the first area controlled by the NUG, so the military council wanted to recapture it at all costs. The defense forces resisted the military’s superior strength as best as they could. Our comrades were more than dutiful.

Sent by Shanni Voice.

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