Ethnic fighters seize town on key Myanmar-China trade route

Ethnic minority fighters in Myanmar clashed with the military for days, culminating in the capture of Naungcho, a town on a crucial trade route to China, on Wednesday.

This development marks a setback for the junta and reignites tensions in the region.

The fighting erupted in late June, shattering a fragile ceasefire brokered by China in January.

The alliance involved in the offensive comprises the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

General Tar Bhone Kyaw, a leader of the TNLA, confirmed to AFP that Naungcho is now under their control.

The town sits approximately 50 kilometers south of Pyin Oo Lwin, a former British colonial town known for housing the military’s elite training academy.

Additionally, TNLA fighters reported presence within Lashio, a strategically significant town that serves as the junta’s northeastern command center.

The clashes have resulted in civilian casualties.

The military government claims that 18 civilians in Lashio lost their lives and 24 more were injured due to shelling and drone attacks by the alliance.

Residents reported numerous airstrikes by the military in the vicinity of Lashio, a city with roughly 150,000 inhabitants.

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