The photos of nine female PDF medics went viral on social media Thursday after they were arrested in a junta raid on Kale PDF’s Battalion 3.
A KDF spokesperson told DVB that, whilst around 20 medics usually held the camp, when soldiers stormed the southwestern side of the city only two male PDF members and ten women were present as guerrillas had deployed to the frontline.
“They didn’t have a chance to fight back the military’s troops,” a spokesperson of Kale-PDF told DVB, adding that the camp was easily overrun and subsequently fired at.
For the days following the women’s abduction, resistance forces launched a response that repelled the military from the area. The same afternoon, the spokesperson said, Kale PDF joined with the Chin National Defense Forces in an attempt to free the hostages. Reinforcements arrived from all sides, as soldiers from the CDF (KKG) and resistance forces from townships neighboring the camp—including those from Shar Taw, Myo Kyi Kone and Min Hla wards—took up arms to defend Kale PDF.
The resistance group claims that 17 soldiers were killed that evening, and that one CNDF member was injured after being caught in a mortar blast. Another two soldiers were killed during fighting which occurred between Kale and Zomi PDFs and junta forces in Tahan ward the following day.
Yesterday morning, the nine hostages were used as human shields as troops deployed at Naga Pwat village, where soldiers had previously decamped with their hostages.
As reinforcements were driven out of Chin Saing and Naga Pwat, their convoy ran into three landmines. Kale PDF estimates that 15 soldiers were killed in the explosions. That evening, troops entered Chin Saing village and torched civilian home in retaliation.
Battles over Naga Pwat village continued until yesterday noon, when Kalay PDF and its allies retreated. That evening, Kalay PDF reported that it had found three bodies at its camp, two men and a woman: 25-year-old Pwi Ar, 27-year-old Maw Yar, and medical team member, 23-year-old Ma Chin Chin.
“We cremated the bodies of two men and one woman that were found yesterday at our camp,” the spokesperson told DVB, “We felt really upset about it. Their death and sacrifice will not be in vain.”
The women who were captured by the troops range from 18 to 25 years old. Kalay PDF presumes that they are currently still alive.
“This is the first time that the Tatmadaw raided our camp, but some of our members’ houses in the city have been raided by the military before,” the spokesperson said, adding that the women are being detained at No.3 Regional Military Headquarters, located in Kale city center, five miles from Naga Pwat village.
Due to the intensity of the fighting, residents a eight villages are said to have fled their properties, located on the southwestern mountainside of Kale. In anticipation of liberating the villages, Kale PDF has told the public not to use Kalay-Gangaw Highway Road, currently being used by the military for resupply and reconnaissance operations.
Including those murdered this week, nearly a dozen Kalay PDF members have been killed since September. Another ten resistance fighters from allied groups have been killed since the coup. However, civilian casualties by far outweigh the losses of the PDFs: in August and September, the military targeted Kalay PDF training camps based along the Chindwin River, torching homes and murdering scores of local people.
Kale PDF is one of Burma’s resistance groups that claims to have formed under the direction of the NUG’s Ministry of Defense.
“We have a strong force at this time. There are many young people who are lining up to serve in the Kalay PDF and want to undertake military training to fight the army,” the spokesperson said. “Our troops continue to grow, and we maintain the support of the people of Kale.”