Eliminate destructive elements, protect the interests of country and people
Goktwin Bridge on Mandalay-Lashio105th Mile MongYu-Muse Union Highway, the key road for development of north-eastern Myanmar, was damaged by mine attacks of the AA, TNLA and MNDAA insurgents on 15 August, halting border trade and communications.
Goktwin Bridge is located on the Union Highway through which 70 percent of Myanmar’s trade is conducted. On 16 and 17 August, 41st mile reinforced concrete bridge in Byone Taung, Man Tong Sun Bridge in Hsenwi and Kunglon townships, and 31st mile bridge at the exit of Narte Village on Lashio-Hsenwi-Kunglon, Union Highway were blown up intentionally. We have expressed the ongoing measures to put border trade route back into service and restore regional stability and the rule of law.
Captain Sai Pyae Moe Htet (GE platoon, Kyaukme)
The mine didn’t destroy the bridge in the first time. Their intention was to completely destroy the bridge. When they made second attempt to blow up the bridge, our reinforcements attacked them, giving them no time to blow up the bridge. As they withdrew, containers of gunpowder and TNT were left.We discovered 33 containers of C4 gunpowder and 198 detonators, with six detonators in each gunpowder container. And we also found four blocks of TNT with 40 TNT sheets, a total of 160 TNT sheets. Each block came with six detonators, so 24 detonators. A total of 222 detonators were found. A one-inch chunk of TNT, if used with highly explosive and detonators, can even damage the rail track.
If even a chunk of TNT has such destructive power, if they could successfully detonate the mines they planted, both the upper and lower structures of the bridge would have shattered into pieces and fall into water. Cracks may appear on both approach roads and the while bridges might have been destroyed.
Dr Sitt Aung (Administrator, Naunghkio Township)
The attacks were staged in reprisal to drug bursts. They targeted at narcotics inspection gate. Vehicles detained there were set ablaze. Nine Tatmadaw soldiers, three policemen and two civilians (were killed). Thirteen civilians were injured in the attack, and three more were injured later, so a total of 16 were injured. A total of 14 died. A large amount of commercial tax to be levied on imports and imports was lost as China-Myanmar trade route was cut off. Administrators, Myanmar Police Force and local Tatmadaw battalions are working together to prevent similar insurgent attacks from recurring. We have been conducting patrols, taken back positions and prepared drills. I am sorry that police officers and Tatmadaw soldiers providing security for Goktwin Bridge crucial from China-Myanmar trade route died. I am very proud that they sacrificed their lives to protect Naunghkio, and I’m very sorry for them.
U Paung Liam Kham (local people’s militia, Naunghkio )
As insurgents came to occupy the toll gate at the entrance to Naunghkio, we, people’s militia, joined Tatmadaw and attacked to take back Asia World gate. As we fought with determination, we could retake Asia World gate, and they withdrew after blowing up the bridge.We are providing security at toll gate for regional security together with Tatmadaw and Myanmar Police Force.A local (speaking on condition of anonymity) I have lived in Naunghkio for around 40 years. Tatmadawmen and Myanmar Police Force are quite commendable. They deserve praise as they fought tooth and nail to defend the town though they were heavily outnumbered. Mines were not detonated thanks to their defence, otherwise, the damage would have been more serious. It is unacceptable that innocent civilians were attacked. I am grateful that Tatmadaw and police are providing security for the public.
Daw Myat Sandar Kyaw (Se Da Na Mon humanitarian organization, Naunghkio )
I heard blasts from my home, and I thought they came from gravel mining as we are close to cement plant. When my husband went to work at Inn Waing sugar mill around 7.30 am, there was traffic congestion near Kyauk Kyan, and vehicles and motorbikes of ordinary citizens were asked to return (to their points of origin). Friends who were stuck in Naunghkio came to our house. A clash erupted with (armed) organizations since 5.30 am. As soon as roads were serviceable in the evening, Se Da Na Mon humanitarian organization and other civil society organizations went to the bridge and started rescue works. We also went to Kyauk Kyan. (Naunghkio Township) red cross society prepared to send patients to the hospital. Social workers started picking up patients into ambulances. Some patients needed emergency care. An elderly man injured in his thigh needed emergency medical operation, and as the free funeral service association rescued the patients, patients that needed emergency care were sent to hospital with Taw Win Cho cars. But, due to heavy shooting near Kyauk Kyan, ambulances had to return. Patients were given oxygen on the ambulances, and people donated blood which was transfused into patients. Patients were kept on ambulances with the hope that they could be rushed to the hospital when the road was open. At that time, we just heard that the bridge was broken, and didn’t see the pictures. So, we were waiting for further information. Later, we learnt that we could not cross the bridge as the lower structure of the bridge had completely broken. All the travellers were stuck here. We have lived here for long and this is our native. This is the first time I’ve experienced a clash here, and I am sorry for that. I am sorry for the people and the soldiers. Particularly, I feel sorry for fallen soldiers. I would like to say on behalf of people that I am sorry for them. I was quite sorry when I saw them covered in injuries. This is the first time for the people are in a state of panic in Naunghkio, and children dare not go to school.
U Thein Aung (chief engineer, civil, road and bridge construction department, Ministry of Construction)
As the insurgent attacks damaged this road, it halted commodity flow and communications in this region. As a result, people who use this road are faced with a lot of difficulties in education, health and social aspects. The bridge construction department under the Ministry of Construction took urgent steps to build a bailey bridge. We formed five teams to build it. We worked day and night with a total of about 150 staff—28 engineers and 110 skilled workers—and 28 units of machinery including three cranes to build the bridge. We worked swiftly to address the difficulties of local ethnic people.
Maung Nge Chit (cargo truck driver, Myingyan)
I drive 12-wheeled cargo truck between Muse and Mandalay. As we were going to travel to Mandalay from Muse, we heard about blasts on Goktwin Bridge on 15 August evening. I was sorry when I heard that. It posed difficulties to travellers and cargo trucks. We were stuck. We had been in Goktwin for four or five days. We have difficulties to have foods. There are social service workers who make donations to us. As we have to live by roadside, it is hard for us. I am very happy and grateful that security is provided in respective places. I hope that we can use this road soon.
To be continued