Dozens arrested in connection with attacks in Yangon Region’s Khayan Township

Around 50 people have been arrested in Yangon Region’s Khayan Township on suspicion of involvement in a series of attacks on regime targets carried out since late last month.

According to the leader of the Khayan People’s Defence Force (PDF), the group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks, none of its members were among those detained.

Most were young people, including women, said Ko Mee Pwa, the Khayan PDF leader, adding that many were taken into custody simply for having tattoos on their legs. 

“There’s a man with a tattoo on his leg in a video that we released after our assault on the immigration office, so now they’re going after everyone with tattoos on their legs,” he said.

“If there had been a bald man in the video, they would probably be rounding up all the bald men in town now, too,” he added.

The group claims that it carried out seven attacks on regime targets, including police stations, military outposts, and an immigration office, in the township between March 30 and April 14, resulting in a number of junta casualties.

The first incident targeted two policemen who were ambushed near the village Ka Tone Paw on March 30. Both were killed, according to the Khayan PDF.

Three more attacks were launched on April 3, when 40mm rocket launchers were used against a police station in the village of Pan Kan and army outposts in the villages of Kayin Kan and Thit Taw, the group said. No casualties were reported.

A week later, on April 9 and 10, two more attacks, each using an 81mm rocket launcher, were carried out on police stations in the villages of Khayan Myoma and Ping Kan, respectively.

The seventh incident occurred on April 14, just after the start of the annual Thingyan holiday, when an attack on an immigration office left two policemen dead.

According to the Khayan PDF, all of the suspects are being held at interrogation camps or on army bases.

It added that while none of its members were captured, two firearms belonging to the group were seized in a raid on a house where some of the guerrilla fighters had been hiding.

The crackdown began the day after the Thingyan attack, when the home of Ko Mee Pwa, the Khayan PDF leader, was set on fire by around 40 junta troops and all roads in and out of the town of Khayan were closed.

A resident told Myanmar Now that the roads were reopened on April 20, but other restrictions remain in place.

“Three-wheeled vehicles are banned in the town now,” he said, noting that the vehicles, popularly known as tuk-tuks, are a common form of transportation in Khayan. 

“A lot of people’s livelihoods have come almost to a complete halt because of this ban,” said another Khayan resident.

In November of last year, regime authorities in the township prohibited the use of motorcycles in 12 wards and 53 village tracts after a series of attacks involving assailants who made their getaway on the vehicles. That ban remains in place.

According to a local man, the latest restriction has resulted in a shortage of food and fuel in the township, which has also seen a major increase in the number of soldiers on patrol.

“They walk around like they’re advancing into battle. If they stop you, you’re forced to kneel on the ground for an hour before they let you go,” he said.

Motorcycles are also banned in neighbouring Thone Gwa Township due to similar attacks on junta-appointed administrators and other regime targets.

Khayan is located about 60km east of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. The township borders Bago Region, which has seen the highest number of resignations by regime-appointed officials since the military seized power in February 2021.

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