Junta shells explode at drug rehabilitation center in Shan where villagers were sheltering from fighting 

Myanmar military artillery shells exploded at a drug rehabilitation center where people were taking shelter in southern Shan State’s Pekhon Township in the early hours of Wednesday morning during a clash with resistance fighters. 

Residents left their nearby village of Kathea to stay in the facility because they believed they would be safer from military shelling there, but had to flee once again when explosions destroyed parts of the building. There were no reports of injuries. 

The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) teamed up with the Pekhon People’s Defence Force (PDF) to launch an attack on Tuesday afternoon against a military unit stationed in the hills just outside of Pekhon Township, near a village called Thel. 

The junta soldiers fired shells during the ensuing clash, some of which landed on the rehab clinic. 

It is unclear exactly how many were sheltering in the facility and how many stayed in the village, but some 400 people from Kathea fled on foot in the wake of the shelling, said Thuzar, who was among those who fled. 

“We couldn’t even carry our things,” Thuzar said. “We just had to flee empty-handed. Some carried whatever they could. We walked for about four hours and headed to the western hills away from the military units.” 

The majority of those who fled, over 300, are now staying in Kawnghwet village while the rest are staying nearby. Those displaced say they are in urgent need of help as they had to flee unexpectedly and are low on supplies.

In the town of Pekhon, meanwhile, junta soldiers have been stopping, searching and arresting people while also firing shells at random into the town on Tuesday and Wednesday, injuring three, a resident there told Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.  

“The military has been firing shells and shooting randomly, so no one dares to stay in the town anymore,” said the resident, who is one of the few who has stayed behind. It is unclear exactly how many have been displaced. 

Street vendors and pedestrians have disappeared from the town’s streets and been replaced by patrolling military units whose soldiers have been stealing things from abandoned houses, said the Pekhon resident.

On Thursday evening, soldiers beat and arrested a man who stayed behind in the town to take care of his milling business, the resident said, adding that they then stole his car. 

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun could not be reached for comment on the events in Pekhon. 

Five junta battalions are located in Pekhon Township, including the No. 7 Military Operation Command headquarters. 

The Pekhon PDF says that since it was formed in the wake of the February coup, its resistance fighters have killed at least 100 junta soldiers in at least 20 clashes.

Last week the group killed five people and seized their weapons during a raid on a security outpost of the 336th Light Infantry Battalion. 

In late September several local resistance groups teamed up to attack a convoy of some 40 military vehicles in neighbouring Kayah State, killing several soldiers. 

And on Tuesday the KNDF and the Karenni Army killed 10 junta soldiers and destroyed two army vehicles in Demoso, about 25 miles from Pekhon.

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