Leader of Myaing PDF helps his fighters escape ambush by sacrificing himself in shootout with police 

The leader of a People’s Defence Force (PDF) chapter in Magway Region was killed in a shootout with police on Sunday while providing covering fire so his fighters could flee an ambush, two of the escapees told Myanmar Now. 

Phoe Htay, 40, was riding with a PDF motorcycle convoy past a police station in the village of Bahin, Myaing Township, at around 6pm when a group of officers emerged from the grounds of a nearby pagoda and aimed guns at the resistance fighters. 

At the same time, four armed officers in a Toyota Mark II car rammed the motorcycles from behind, while police inside the station fired a volley of gunshots. 

Phoe Htay, who also went by the name Aung Kyaw Htay, then began shooting at both the police station and the car that had rammed them, the PDF fighters said. 

“He was shooting at them on his own so that we could escape. All of his people managed to escape,” said one. “If it weren’t for his sacrifice, all of our comrades would have been captured and would still be detained.”

During the shootout, which lasted about four minutes, the two escapees saw a police officer hit by one of Phoe Htay’s shots and fall down, though they are unsure if he died. Phoe Htay was shot numerous times, they added.

The PDF fighters were on a mission when the ambush happened, though the two escapees declined to give details or say how many men were involved. The fighters had split into three groups and rode motorcycles with their weapons hidden, said the second escapee. 

Phoe Htay was part of the middle group of motorcycles. “They let the first batch of us go and tried to catch the second batch, which caused the clash,” the second escapee said. “They had undercover officers on lookout.”

The officers in the Toyota started tailing Phoe Htay’s motorbike near a petroleum plant about 30 minutes from Bahin, according to the first escapee.

“We kept our weapons hidden,” he said. “There are some rumours that we were targeted because we were carrying our weapons in plain sight. It’s not true. They were informed about us coming. We only managed to escape because of his sacrifice.”

The military took Phoe Htay’s body and have not returned it to his family, the two PDF fighters said. Soldiers from Battalion 101 are now stationed at the police station where the shootout took place as well as in the local high school, they added. 

Before taking up arms, Phoe Htay became a prominent protest leader in the wake of the February 1 coup. He also served as a member of the local executive committee for the National League for Democracy.

Late last month PDF chapters from 13 townships in Magway formed an alliance and named themselves the Magway Division Army (MDA). 

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