Myanmar Junta forces losing ground in clashes in ethnic border areas

BANGKOK (dpa): The military in Myanmar has come under severe pressure from armed ethnic resistance groups in several parts of the country.

Fighting has been particularly fierce since the end of October in eastern Shan State on the border with China.

"There have been over 154 bases and outposts of the Myanmar military occupied by the Brother Alliance since the operation started. We are working on it with the team," a spokesman for ISP Myanmar, a non-governmental think tank, told dpa on Tuesday.

The alliance includes three groups: the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA). All three are traditionally very close to China.

According to its own statements and media reports, the Brother Alliance has also succeeded in capturing at least six small towns in the region.

MNDAA spokesman Li Kyarwen told dpa that at least 150 soldiers of the ruling junta had been killed. The information could not initially be independently verified.

The UN said tens of thousands of people are on the run in the border region alone. Many are trying to reach China.

Armed groups in other federal states - such as Chin State on the border with India and Bangladesh, Karenni State in the far east and in the Sagaing region - are also said to have risen up against the military and seized various towns and military posts.

Almost 450 soldiers have already laid down their weapons in various parts of the country, reported the newspaper The Irrawaddy.

"The actual number could be higher, however, as more and more junta positions are being abandoned," the paper wrote.

In view of the success of the resistance groups, the junta-appointed president of the crisis state, Myint Swe, warned almost a fortnight ago that the country could fall apart.

"If the government does not deal effectively with the incidents in the border region, it will split the country into different parts," he said. - dpa

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