A village in Sagaing Region’s Wetlet Township came under fire on Monday as clashes that began on New Year’s Eve continued into the first week of 2022.
According to local sources, helicopters were used to transport at least 50 junta troops to Nyaungpingyitaw, a village about 16km east of the town of Wetlet, on Monday afternoon.
“They dropped off the soldiers to be stationed in our village. We had to run like animals. No one dared to stay,” said one Nyaungpingyitaw resident who spoke on condition of anonymity.
An information officer for the Wetlet People’s Defence Force (PDF) told Myanmar Now that four helicopters were used in the operation.
“Three helicopters airlifted soldiers into the village, while a fourth hovered around, firing shots in all directions. They just kept shooting with their machine guns and dropping grenades, even though no one was attacking them,” he said.
The local resident confirmed this, adding that the junta troops began firing artillery soon after taking control of the village.
“We didn’t think they would be this cruel. Using airstrikes against ordinary villagers is just too cruel,” he said.
The assault on Nyaungpingyitaw came days after another village in Wetlet Township faced even heavier fire over the weekend.
On Friday, around 70 members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee group entered the village of Phayarlaykone from Shein Ma Kar, another village located along the Ayeyarwady River, triggering two days of fierce fighting.
According to the Wetlet PDF information officer, at least 12 Pyu Saw Htee members were killed during two hours of clashes that began at around 2pm on Friday, despite receiving artillery support from military forces in the area.
“They were furiously firing heavy artillery at us, so we couldn’t get too close,” he said, adding that the two sides resumed fighting the next morning after the Pyu Saw Htee members in Phayarlaykone started setting fire to houses.
That battle began at around 11am and ended only after the military’s Northwestern Military Command sent an MI-35 combat helicopter to assist Pyu Saw Htee members pinned down in a wooded area near the village.
“The helicopter arrived at around 6pm while we had them surrounded in the woods east of the village. It rained down grenades for about half an hour,” said the information officer.
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One PDF member named Nge Lay was killed in that assault, which enabled around 30 Pyu Saw Htee members to escape, he added.
After taking control of the village, the PDF fighters cleared the area inside and around Phayarlaykone, according to the information officer.
“We cleared the area for the locals. We didn’t find any mines. However, most villagers are still wary about returning, as there is still a risk of the military carrying out another airstrike,” he said.
Myanmar’s military has deployed helicopters in many areas of Sagaing and Magway regions as part of its ongoing offensive against resistance forces opposed to its rule.
Guerrilla groups active around the country continue to inflict heavy casualties on regime forces. Last Wednesday, an army captain was killed in Wetlet Township by an explosive device planted by regime opponents.