5 IDPs killed by junta artillery fire in Khin-U Township

Five civilians were killed and 13 others were injured after an artillery shell fired by Myanmar’s military landed on a crowd of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township on Thursday.

The victims, who had had gathered on the eastern bank of the Muu River to see if their village was being targeted by regime forces clashing with resistance fighters on the other side of the river, were from the village of Pauk Thar in Ye-U Township, according to local sources.

The fighting was taking place in Chaung Pauk, a village in Depayin Township about a mile from Pauk Thar.

“They saw junta troops near their village and were watching to see if they were setting fire to their homes. They wanted to be ready to try to put out the fires,” said a resident of Tar Taing, the village nearest to where the shelling incident occurred.

The regime forces had earlier been attacked by explosives about a mile from the site of the incident, according to resistance sources.

James, the leader of a local defence force, told Myanmar Now that the military fired twice in the direction of Tar Taing, where the Pauk Thar IDPs were sheltering.

After the first shot, the displaced villagers began to flee towards Tar Taing, he said. It was then that the second shell made a direct hit.

“About 100 people were running back to the village when another shell fell straight into the crowd. That’s why there were so many casualties,” he said, citing witnesses.

The dead IDPs were identified as Win Ko, 50, Naing Lin Maung, 56, Kyaw Naing, 42, Pyay, 27, and Tin Lin, 50.

The Tar Taing villager said that an attempt to hold a funeral for the deceased on Thursday had to be abandoned after the military opened fire on the village again.

“We had to start running in the middle of the monks’ chanting because the military fired another shell at us,” said the villager, adding that final rites were finally performed on Friday morning. 

According to the villager, a junta column of more than 100 troops had launched a series of attacks on villages located along the border between Ye-U and Depayin townships since leaving the town of Ye-U last Wednesday.

A total of 36 houses in five villages were destroyed in the attacks, he said.

Attempts to reach regime officials for comment on the military’s  targeting of civilians in the region went unanswered.

Anti-junta groups in Khin-U, Ye-U, and Depayin townships say that their forces have killed 10 junta troops in recent joint operations. Myanmar Now was unable to independently confirm this claim. 

Photos posted by the Ye-U People’s Defence Force on social media show the charred remains of what the group says is two dead soldiers.

According to resistance groups operating in the area, the military has begun burning the bodies of its dead in order to conceal junta casualties, just as it has been putting those of dead civilians inside houses before setting them on fire in an effort to destroy evidence of atrocities.

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