Karenni Rangers Bring Joy and Loss of a Friend During January 2024 Missions

Karenni State, Burma

6 February 2024

Warning: Graphic Content

January 1: Joy on children’s faces during GLC program.

During the month of January, Burma Army attacks continued unabated but were met by strong resistance from a coalition of local pro-democracy forces, including the Karenni National Defense Force and the Pa-Oh National Liberation Army. The Karenni Ranger team provided frontline medical relief to those standing up against injustice, and for civilians trying to survive. One Karenni volunteer medic working alongside the Rangers, Michael Zay Ya, gave his life while helping others. He was killed by a Burma Army airstrike while caring for the wounded at a Casualty Collection Point (CCP) in Hsi Hseng Town. He will be missed. Details of the events leading up to his death and other events responded to by the Karenni FBR team are below.

Micheal Zay Ya, volunteer medic killed by a Burma Army airstrike on a Casualty Collection Point.

On January 28, 2024, resistance fighters launched an assault on a Burma Army position in Hsi Hseng Town from 0500 to 1200 hrs. In response, the Burma Army swiftly retaliated with mortars and an attack jet, compelling the resistance forces to retreat. This clash led to the loss of seven people and the injury of 22 resistance fighters. One of those who were killed was our comrade Michael Zay Ya. The Karenni Ranger team provided frontline medical relief to those involved in the armed confrontation.

On January 27, 2024, the Pa-Oh National Liberation Army (PNLA, the resistance force of the Pa-Oh people) attempted to clear Burma Army landmines from Hsi Hseng Town, which led to one casualty when a PNLA soldier stepped on a landmine. The day prior, a coalition force consisting of the Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF) and PNLA launched an attack on Burma Army Infantry Battalion (IB) 424, from 0500 to 0900. Six resistance fighters sustained injuries during the clash, and the Karenni Ranger team provided frontline medical aid, evacuations, and transportation away from the fighting.

January 27: Treating wounded at Hsi Hseng Town clash.
January 27: Treating wounded at the Hsi Hseng Town clash.

On January 25, the Burma Army IB 423 shelled a KNDF position, resulting in injuries to six KNDF soldiers. Simultaneously, the Burma Army collaborated with the Pa-Oh National Organization (PNO, an allied force of the Burma Army) to attack the village of Ho Pone in Southern Shan State, near a PNLA base, ultimately capturing a resistance weapons cache.

On January 24, a coalition force comprising the KNDF and PNLA, launched an attack on the positions of both the Burma Army and PNO. Currently, resistance forces control the area extending from Htee Sel Khar Village in Karenni State to Hsi Hseng Police Station in Southern Shan State. The Karenni Ranger team helped inform and evacuate civilians from inside Hsi Hseng.

January 20, resistance forces in the Shadaw downtown sought to negotiate the surrender of Burma Army troops dug in there. However, the Burma Army refused, instead attacking the position of the resistance forces with a 79mm grenade launcher and 81mm mortar.

On January 15, 2023, resistance forces initiated an attack on the Burma Army stationed in the Shadaw downtown, utilizing an attack drone. This operation resulted in the death of the Deputy Battalion Commander and injuries to 12 other Burma Army soldiers. The conflict continued into January 16, 2024, with resistance forces launching an attack on Burma Army bases in Shadaw at 0800. The battle continued for two days, during which the Burma Army resorted to using an attack jet to bomb Shadaw City more than 15 times. In the midst of the prolonged clash, the Karenni Rangers provided crucial front-line medical support to all participants.

January 12, 2024, witnessed the Burma Army, Hpruso Artillery Battalion 54, employing 120mm mortars to shell the village of Daw Ta Ma Nge in East Demoso. A civilian father of seven, U Mi Reh, was killed while carrying supplies to his home. He was hit in the head with mortar shrapnel during this attack, killing him instantly.

On the same day, the Karenni Ranger team collaborated with Freelance Volunteer Myanmar (FVM) to deliver a Good Life Club (GLC) program and lunch to 65 children in the Hot Stream IDP Camp. The team extended their humanitarian efforts by partnering with FVM to conduct a mobile medical clinic and GLC program for IDPs in Har Mu IDP camp on January 12, 2024. Thirty children participated in the program, receiving both educational and nutritional support.

January 12: Rangers providing medical care for civilians in IDP camp.
January 12: Children praying during GLC program.

The Karenni Ranger team’s dedication to community well-being was further evident on January 6, 2024, when they visited Daw Wel Yaw Education Hostel. The team conducted a GLC program and provided encouragement to the hostel, run by villagers, offering education from second to tenth grades to a total of 83 students.

The year began on a compassionate note as the Karenni Rangers, in collaboration with Freelance Volunteer Myanmar (FVM), visited Whirlwind Camp on January 1, 2024. This camp houses internally displaced persons (IDPs) displaced from Loikaw City, 6 Mile IDP Camp, and Daw Poe Hsi Village. The team engaged nearly 100 individuals in a GLC program, offering chicken and rice, and providing soy milk to those in need.

Simultaneously, on January 1, 2024, the Karenni Rangers partnered with FVM for GLC programs in Be Too (Under) and Be Too (Upper). One hundred IDPs participated in the programs, and the Ranger teams extended their support by providing medical clinics and distributing dry food to the IDPs in these villages.

Thank you for your interest in suffering of the people of Burma and FBR’s efforts to bring help, hope and love.

God bless you,

The Free Burma Rangers

Below are several more photos from our Karenni Ranger Team.

January 29: Treating a patient.
January 12: Rangers conduct a GLC program.
January 6: Ranger prays for children during GLC program.
January 1: Group of children and adult IDPs participate in a GLC program.

To read more about Karenni State click below:

Karenni Rangers Provide Frontline Medical Relief

All Ethnic Groups Under Fire in Karen State