Ground assaults, shelling from junta warship displaces thousands in southern Myanmar

The junta raided Thayetchaung Township, Tanintharyi Region last week, forcing civilians from their homes with arson attacks and heavy artillery fire from a vessel offshore, local resistance groups claim.

A junta column of more than a hundred soldiers left its base between Mindat and Win Wa villages on Route 8, a road connecting the towns of Dawei and Myeik, Tanintharyi Township, taking off-roads before arriving and initiating a raid at the coastal village of Ka Net Thi Ri on June 8.

Local defence teams intercepted the column’s advance the same day, leading to a clash and several junta casualties. The military then began sending support by land and sea, according to Shwe Daung, a spokesperson for a locally active resistance force who spoke with Myanmar Now on Sunday.

“We received intelligence that soldiers had shot two civilians dead in Ka Net Thi Ri village. We heard that they are also torturing and interrogating the civilians from Kywe Min Kone village,” Shwe Daung said, referring to another village on the coast some ten miles southeast of Ka Net Thi Ri.

“They also set fires, and started shelling the area using heavy weapons on a ship offshore. The ship couldn’t get too close to the shore because the water is shallow, so they fired at us from the out at sea. Their primary target was Ka Net Thi Ri village and they’ve been shelling it relentlessly. Ground assaults are still going on too,” he added.

According to local news sources based in Thayetchaung, there is only one route out of Ka Net Thi Ri by land, and the warship started shelling after local resistance forces blocked the military’s ground forces from leaving.

According to Shwe Daung, the junta forces stationed in Ka Net Thi Ri village for three days, then split into three groups before moving inland on Sunday morning towards Yae Nge (Ya Nge) village, located just off Route 8.

A 23-year-old displaced resident of Ya Nge named Wai Yan Hein was shot dead by the military on his way home from buying medication for his mother on Sunday afternoon, Shwe Daung said.

He believed more serious fighting could break out as local people’s defence teams are also operating near Route 8.

A spokesperson for the Thayetchaung Township People’s Administration Team, which is affiliated with the publicly mandated National Unity Government, claimed that at least 8,000 civilians had been forced to flee from several of the township’s villages, including Ka Net Thi Ri, Kywe Min Kone and Ya Nge.

The military not only torched houses during the raid on Ka Net Thi Ri, but captured and interrogated some 30 villagers, then forced them to wear military uniforms in order to use them as human shields, the spokesperson said, citing accounts from displaced civilians.

“This is the first time that a warship has ever fired on us. There has hardly been any fighting in this area before. Seeing this happen now is heartbreaking. The attacks have forced so many people to flee,” the spokesperson added.

The junta has made no public statements regarding claims that their soldiers targeted civilians and torched houses in Ka Net Thi Ri and nearby villages.

Ka Net Thi Ri was a village of over 2,000 households before the recent raids forced most of the population to flee. Although junta forces have now left the village, its residents remain displaced at the time of reporting.

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