Junta bombards Depayin villages with artillery and airstrikes 

The junta’s forces on Tuesday began heavily bombarding several villages in Sagaing Region’s Depayin Township with artillery fire and an attack helicopter, local residents told Myanmar Now. 

The shelling began at around 7am in a cluster of five villages–Aung Si Myay, Aung Tharyar, Baw Kone, Lel Pyin Kwet and Mya Kan Thar–that sit about eight miles west of Depayin’s urban center. 

About an hour later a helicopter arrived and began strafing the area with heavy and light weapons, five locals said. 

“We heard a lot of shells. I think there were hundreds of them,” said a man who fled his home in Aung Si Myay. “They continued firing artillery shells for around two hours.” 

“The helicopter hovered around for some time. There was so much noise. They have circled this area at least 10-12 times,” he added.

The bombardment came after resistance fighters attacked junta soldiers near Aung Shin Myay with explosives on Monday night, prompting a round of retaliatory shelling the same evening. 

Thousands have already fled their homes in Depayin after the start of a major offensive by the junta last month. 

A leader of the Depayin People’s Defence Force (PDF) said Tuesday’s attacks followed a clash between his group and the juntas forces near Aung Si Myay and Mya Kan Thar in the morning.

“They have been firing shots from the helicopter since 8am. It has now been 30 minutes and they still haven’t gone back yet,” he said on Tuesday morning. 

The airstrikes in the area lasted for 52 minutes, said Ah Nyo, an explosives officer with the Myanmar Defence Force (Depayin), which is providing military support to the PDF. 

“I heard that they fired two missiles followed by a series of bombs. It was so noisy. I heard they detonated 30-40 bombs,” she said.

A military unit is stationed at the Shwe Saryan pagoda in Aung Si Myay, she added. 

An aid worker who is helping people displaced by violence in Depayin and goes by the name Zero said Tuesday’s attacks were among the most serious the area had seen. 

“The PDF does not have a command center or battalions or weapons industries. They’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time and this reckless firing of heavy and light weapons at random places will do nothing good for the military,” he said. 

“They’re just recklessly wasting the people’s taxes,” he added. “They’re looking for the PDF members but the problem is that there is no way to differentiate PDF members from regular civilians, so they just treat everyone as their enemy.”

A 43-year-old Aung Si Myay villager who fled Tuesday’s attacks said he now wanted to fight the dictatorship. 

“We are now on the run but I don’t care if our village gets burned to ashes. Old can be replaced by new. We can start over and try again. Our first priority is to eradicate the dictatorship,” he  said.

A junta spokesperson did not answer calls seeking comment. 

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