‘Even if you support them, they won’t spare you’ – junta forces arrest pro-USDP civilians after suffering heavy casualties   

Junta soldiers arrested 17 civilians who are supporters of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Sagaing Region on Friday after their column suffered heavy casualties during landmine attacks by resistance fighters. 

People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters in Khin-U Township said they killed over 60 junta soldiers and members of Pyu Saw Htee, a group formed of civilians and ex-military personnel to help the junta crush the anti-coup movement, during the attacks.

The junta forces were on patrol just outside of Kyee Aing village in the early hours of Friday morning when they were struck by explosions from 20 landmines planted in their path by the PDF. 

“So many of them died during that attack,” said the Khin-U PDF’s leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “All of the villagers had to flee, of course,”

The surviving junta forces marched forward to Dan Kone village and arrested 17 people, he added. Both the PDF leader and a Khin-U local said the 17 were hiding in a monastery during the raid by soldiers and were known to be USDP supporters. 

“In other words, they were military supporters,” the local said. “This just further proves that even if you support them, they’re not going to spare you. You’ll have to run just like any other person.”

Soldiers arrested another four people in the nearby village of Mon Taw that same morning, he added. The whereabouts of the detainees is unknown. 

The USDP has not commented publicly on the reported detention of its members. 

After the landmine attacks, at around 3pm on Friday, the military sent a 12-wheeled truck to collect the dead bodies and the injured, a second PDF fighter told Myanmar Now. The PDF then attacked that truck with more landmines as it left the area with injured soldiers on board. 

“We attacked that vehicle with landmines again right before they got to the Ye-U bridge,” he said. “The vehicle’s right side got completely destroyed and it could not proceed.”

Myanmar Now is unable to independently verify the PDF’s reports about the number of casualties. 

Also on Friday, the PDF said it attacked the Khin-U Township police station with a grenade, killing two junta soldiers.   

The PDF said it did not suffer any casualties during the clashes. Its fighters went on to surround the village of Ma Daung Hla, which is reportedly a Pyu Saw Htee stronghold. 

“There are a lot of Pyu Saw Htee members in Ma Daung Hla village,” the second PDF fighter said. “We clashed with them in the evening but there were very few casualties on either side.” 

The PDF then retreated, and shortly after that a military helicopter arrived at the village, he added. 

A unit of roughly 200 soldiers is stationed at a military base in e Ye-U Township, about 14 miles from Khin-U. Troops there have been conducting daily raids on surrounding villages recently, locals said.

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