Military fires heavy artillery at northwestern Myanmar IDP camp

The Myanmar army and members of their allied Pyu Saw Htee militia shelled a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sagaing Region’s Taze Township on Sunday, according to members of a local anti-junta defence force. 

They reportedly abducted four men from the camp following the attack, whose whereabouts and condition was not known at the time of reporting. 

The assault occurred just days after the military cut off internet access to almost all of Sagaing on March 3. 

At 6am, junta troops and Pyu Saw Htee members stationed in Kyun Lel village in northern Taze fired artillery at the camp, located outside Myauk Inn village, just one mile from Kyun Lel. 

An alliance of local defence forces active in the area fired heavy artillery back at the military, with the subsequent battle lasting for an hour, a member of the group said. 

“[The junta forces] retreated after getting badly damaged. We repeatedly fired at them. We also managed to seize at least four motorcycles that belonged to the Pyu Saw Htee,” he told Myanmar Now. 

The IDPs in the targeted camp included villagers from Kyun Lel, as well as In Pin Thar, but the camp’s population could not be confirmed at the time of reporting. 

Later that afternoon, the soldiers and militia members who ambushed the camp moved toward neighbouring Ka Be village and again clashed with local defence forces. 

A leader of the defence force in Taze said that another column made up of around 110 soldiers from Kyunhla Township had also arrived near Pu Tee village in the township on the same day.

“They are in Padee village now. They haven’t set up a station yet, though. I think they are still discussing whether to continue their assault,” he said.

In what locals and anti-junta resistance groups say could have been a precursor to intensified assaults on the region, the military council issued an order to telecommunications operators to cut off mobile internet services to more than 20 townships in Sagaing last week, sparing just four major cities from the decree. 

Since then, sources on the ground have reported that village raids have escalated, with troops torching homes and forcing residents to flee. 

Internet access to eight other townships in Sagaing had been cut off since September of last year. 

The leader of the Taze defence force told Myanmar Now that the internet blackouts have disrupted the flow of information to the area and halted access to public donations 

“It’s almost impossible to get funds from the people now and the military has started to use greater force,” he said.

Over the weekend, nearly 200 homes were reportedly torched by junta forces in Sagaing: 100 in Dan Kone and Hman Taw villages in Khin-U Township, more than 50 in Wa Bar in Depayin, more than 20 in Chaung Ma in Kani, and 14 in Thakhut Chaung in Htigyaing. 

Myanmar Now was unable to make contact with junta officials to obtain comment on the attacks reported in Sagaing, and no statement has been released by the military. 

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