10 killed in junta ambush of village security team in Sagaing’s Taze Township

A junta force that has been assaulting villages throughout Sagaing Region’s Taze Township killed 10 people last week—including four resistance fighters—and subsequently burned their bodies, according to local sources. 

The 60 troops responsible were from Light Infantry Division (LID) 33, and airlifted into southern Taze one week earlier, on September 9. They arrived at Oke Pho Aing village, five miles north of the township’s administrative centre, at 5am on September 16, ambushing the locals and anti-junta defence force members who had been standing guard at the community.

“Those who were on guard duty likely got trapped and were then eliminated,” a spokesperson for one of the Taze-based defence forces said. “I think the military might have brought their own local informant. That’s the only way they could have navigated this area this well.”

Four homes in Oke Pho Aing were also torched by the occupying troops, who left that evening. Once they were gone, members of the local resistance returned and found the remains of the 10 victims. 

“They killed them, put them on a bed in a field and set the bed on fire. We actually found four of the bodies first, then six more later,” the defence force spokesperson said. 

A statement released by the military council claimed that a shootout took place during the raid on Oke Pho Aing, resulting in a seizure of weapons and the death of seven members of the People’s Defence Force, under the command of the publicly mandated National Unity Government, which has been working to set up a local administration in Taze.

The same column started their series of attacks on the village of Hpa Lan Chaing on September 15, then moved on to Chaung Son and In Koke Kar before assaulting Oke Pho Aing. The troops then returned to In Koke Kar and Chaung Son, and then raided the village of Aung Chanthar on Saturday. 

Hundreds of residents from at least five villages have been displaced since the LID 33 column began moving through Taze Township. 

The local resistance spokesperson said that his forces had attacked the column with explosives near Aung Chanthar on Saturday and that they were believed to have to have suffered several casualties, although it could not be confirmed at the time of reporting. 

He said that the military had appeared to be using a different strategy in its raids, decreasing the numbers of raiding troops, targeting villages selectively rather than indiscriminately, and attempting to elude the resistance with its movements.

“I think they’re planning to use more ‘compact’ columns. They are using diversions whenever they are heading somewhere and then travel discreetly,” the spokesperson explained. They don’t try to target so many villages in just one day anymore and they are moving slowly and carefully.”

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