Just before the New Year, late at night, the Ei Naing Bridge on the Lashio – Namtu road was blown up.
A woman, speaking to SHAN on condition of anonymity, didn’t know who was responsible but reported hearing drones that later dropped explosives and shells fired from Lashio, where she lives.
The bridge is only seven miles from Lashio in northern Shan State, which members of Three Brotherhood Alliance have encircled after capturing nearby towns of Namtu, Mantong, and Namhsan. They are also surrounding Hsipaw, Kutkai, Muse, and Laukkai towns.
Another concerned citizen said the only other bridge available at this time is the Nam Poung Bridge on the road to Mong Yel. “As there’s only one exit route remaining from Lashio, we have legitimate concerns that our food supplies will be cut off if our town is bombarded during intense clashes.”
Several other crucial bridges have been destroyed in recent weeks. The Sin Ann bridge between Lashio and Hsipaw was destroyed on December 1, during regime fighters’ clashes with Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), part of Northern Brotherhood Alliance.
TNLA reported that SAC’s LIB 503 and 504 blew up the Mong Tay Bridge connecting Hsipaw and Namtu on December 28, 2023. The Namtu Bridge between Lashio and Hsenwi was also destroyed in November.
As SAC continues losing ground to the advancing alliance forces, it has resorted to indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes. Nang Kyein Kham, a 30-year-old school teacher, lost her left leg when a shell landed near her motorcycle after she and her family arrived at the village on Ei Naing.
Three Brotherhoods Alliance has captured hundreds of SAC bases and at least ten towns since launching its 1027 Operation in late October. The alliance met with SAC twice for talks in December brokered by China in Kunming, but these meetings achieved no tangible results.