At least 1,000 displaced by junta attacks in Demoso Township

Junta artillery attacks and airstrikes have forced more than 1,000 civilians to flee their homes in Karenni (Kayah) State’s Demoso Township over the past week, according to local sources.

The attacks began after a convoy carrying around 300 regime forces entered the eastern part of the township from Loikaw last Friday, a member of the social welfare organisation Nway Oo Guru Lay Myarr told Myanmar Now.

Most of the displaced civilians were from the villages of Dawse and Daw Ta Mye, which were evacuated on Monday ahead of the arrival of the convoy.

“We had no choice but to evacuate them as a precaution,” said the relief worker, adding that the junta troops reached Nan Hu Htwe, a village located next to Dawse, on Wednesday.

The displaced villagers are currently sheltering in Daw Law Khu, a village some 10km to the south.

Among those forced to flee were some from the villages of San Pya 6 Mile and Bet Ta Lein who had already been driven from their homes by a military offensive carried out late last year.

“Some didn’t know which way to run anymore. There were also a few who just wanted to stop running and give up. Others went to stay with relatives in western Demoso,” said the aid worker.

According to residents of the area, all civilian traffic between Loikaw and Demoso townships has been suspended since the military began its latest series of attacks there last Friday.

Resistance sources said that no major fighting has taken place since then, but some casualties have been reported as a result of shelling by the military.

“There have only been a few minor clashes, but they fired heavy artillery to make way for their assault columns, so some of our troops were injured by shells that fell near them,” said Francis, the spokesperson for the Demoso People’s Defence Force (PDF).

He added that troops from Light Infantry Battalion 427 and Artillery Battalions 102 and 360, based in Demoso and Loikaw, respectively, had been shelling day and night since the latest offensive began.

One target, he said, was the village of Ho Hpeik, located near the border between Loikaw and Demoso.

There were also reports of airstrikes, including one on Nan Hu Htwe on Monday. A squadron commander from Battalion 10 of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) and two other resistance fighters were killed in the village the same day.

Sources said there were no civilian casualties in that attack, as residents had already fled the area. However, artillery fire had reportedly injured four civilians, including two children, at another unspecified location in Demoso the previous day.

One of the victims, a woman, was said to be in critical condition.

Fighting and airstrikes were also reported in eastern Loikaw Township. While few details were available, at least two resistance fighters were confirmed dead following clashes near the village of Fatima Hpar Maw last Thursday.

The next day, an alliance of anti-regime groups, including the KNDF, the Karenni Army, and the Loikaw and Demoso chapters of the PDF, mounted an assault on a junta base located on the Met Salaung Taung hill near the village of Nanphe.

The resistance forces reportedly managed to overrun the base, which had been under the control of the military for more than a year.

Thousands of people continue to be displaced in ethnic Karenni areas, despite the junta’s efforts to force civilians to return to villages where their security cannot be guaranteed.

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