Kani Township sees dramatic rise in number of displaced after latest clashes

Thousands of people in Sagaing Region’s Kani Township have fled their homes since late last week in the wake of a series of clashes between locals and regime forces.

According to sources in the area, two people were killed and several others were injured when villagers fought with soldiers at a number of locations along the Monywa-Yargyi- Kalaywa road last Thursday and Friday.

Since then, between 3,000 and 5,000 people have fled from more than 30 villages in the township, the sources told Myanmar Now. 

This represents a dramatic increase over previous weeks, which saw hundreds displaced by fighting since mid-April.

Civilians launch attacks

The latest clashes began on Thursday morning after at least seven regime troops were injured when a homemade landmine exploded at 18-Mile on the Monywa-Yargyi-Kalaywa highway, near Mhan mountain, between the villages of Chaungma and Aung Mingalar in Kani Township.

The military responded by sending troops based in Yinmabin Township to attack residents of the area, who were defended by a local defence force armed with homemade Tumi guns.

According to a member of the defence team, fighting continued for most of the day. 

Late in the day, a man in his 30s was killed after being hit by a rocket launcher in the village of Thaminchan, which along with the neighbouring village of Muhtaw was the scene of a fierce battle, the defence force member said.

“We were not able to get to his body. He was shot by a heavy weapon. The soldiers were shooting at anyone who tried to retrieve the body,” he said.

Another casualty was also reported that day in a separate clash that started around 2pm near Kin, a village on the Chindwin River.

That clash broke out after local villagers mounted an assault on a military boat carrying weapons and ammunition north towards the upper part of the river.

Five more military vessels were later sent with reinforcements, and the locals were joined by residents of five other villages in the area, according to a villager who joined the fighting.

“What made it worse for us was that it started raining. Our traditional Tumi guns don’t work in the rain because the gunpowder doesn’t explode when it’s wet. They took advantage of that and came onto the riverbank and began shooting at us,” he told Myanmar Now. 

One man, 20-year-old Upper Kin resident Kyaw Zin Phyo, was killed.

Villagers from Kani Township in Sagaing Region flee from military attacks (Supplied)

Villagers on the run

On Friday morning, the military returned to Thaminchan, the site of heavy fighting the night before, and opened fire on a nearby monastery where displaced locals were sheltering. 

“The military left their vehicles in Thaminchan and came on foot. They shot at the monastery continuously with heavy weapons. There were loud explosions. Everyone had to run,” a Thaminchan local told Myanmar Now by phone.

The local defence force later engaged the troops at the monastery, which is located on Kyauk Lone Gyi mountain. At around 5pm, the regime’s forces left the monastery to set up base in the village.

Clashes were also reported at 21-Mile on the Monywa-Yargyi-Kalaywa highway, near Chaungma, according to a resident of the village. 

“There was non-stop shooting with heavy weapons. It sounded like it was right in the village, even though it was a mile and a half away,” he said, adding that the entire village fled the fighting.

At least two local people were injured, he said.

Villagers from Kani Township in Sagaing Region flee from military attacks (Supplied)

Residents of other villages in the area, including Thaminchan, Kin, Upper Kin, Mi Chaung Twin, Pae Kin, Aung Mingalar, Zeepintwin, and Taung Koe Lone, were also forced to flee.

“The military has declared that they will search until they find what they’re looking for. We had to run with just the clothes on our backs, nothing else. We don’t dare go back to our village,” said a resident of Upper Kin.

A member of a local defence force called for assistance to help fight back against the military’s attacks.  

“They are coming at us with a lot of force, and we don’t have anything. If possible, we need weapons. This is an emergency situation,” he said.

At least 20 civilians were killed in Kani and Yinmabin townships in April. 


Related Articles

Back to top button