Anti-regime groups clash in Sagaing’s Wetlet Township

Two members of a local defence force were killed in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township on Wednesday following a clash with another anti-regime group active in the area, according to the leader of one of the groups involved.

Kyar Gyi, the leader of the Bo Tiger People’s Defence Force (PDF), said his group was conducting searches of vehicles on a road in the eastern part of the township when it was attacked by members of the Shwebo District PDF.

“They attacked our security outpost unannounced while we were checking the cars passing by. They came in a Faw car and two light trucks and were fully armed,” he said.

He said he initially believed that they were being attacked by junta forces.

“I thought they were the bastards from the military. They started shooting in the air and yelling at us to surrender as soon as they arrived,” said Kyar Gyi.

The commander of Shwebo District PDF Battalion 2, which is based in Wetlet Township, denied this, however, saying that the Bo Tiger members had fired first.

“We had received several complaints that Kyar Gyi’s group was demanding money from motorists, so we went to investigate. When we got there, they opened fire as soon as they saw us, so we had to shoot back,” he told Myanmar Now.

Members of the Bo Tiger PDF inspect a truck in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township (Supplied)

The Bo Tiger PDF was founded as a village defence force under the command of the civilian National Unity Government (NUG), but it later went its own way, the Shwebo District PDF commander said. He added that the group had pledged three months ago to stop demanding money from local civilians.

Kyar Gyi insisted that his group was merely inspecting vehicles to see if they were carrying goods made by regime-linked companies.

“We always carry out security checks on cars, boats and other vessels passing through our territory to see if they are carrying junta products. We usually let them get away with it with just a warning if it was an honest mistake,” said Kyar Gyi.

He admitted, however, to requesting “donations” from travellers  who enter the area.

“We don’t force them to give us money. We simply ask them to donate, regardless of the amount,” he said.

The Shwebo District PDF, which operates under the NUG’s PDF chain of command, said that efforts would be made to ensure that such incidents don’t happen again.

A member of another Wetlet-based defence force said that the Bo Tiger PDF had been involved in a number of operations with other anti-regime groups in the area and had lost a large number of its members in battle.

“They were always a very highly motivated group. They fought the dictatorship with everything they had. We have collaborated with them many times. I just don’t know what this is all about,” he said.

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