More villagers in Magwe’s remote Yaw region flee amid military build-up 

Tens of thousands of people living in Magwe’s Yaw region have been forced to flee their homes over the past week as the military increases its presence in the area.

Regime forces have taken control of about a dozen villages along the Myittha River since May 31, displacing around 50,000 people, according to local residents. 

Last Friday, three people were killed and a number of houses were torched in a series of apparently random attacks carried out by junta troops in three villages in Gangaw Township.

Since then, soldiers have been stationed in a factory near the village of Hnan Khar and a police station in Hkayan (North), both located in Gangaw. They have also been looting the homes of those who have fled, according to residents.

As tensions rise in the Yaw region—which includes Magwe’s Gangaw, Htilin and Saw townships—alleged junta collaborators have also come under attack.

On Monday, five people, including two ward administrators, were killed when a group of gunmen opened fire on their vehicle and then set it alight. 

The local People’s Defence Force claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released on social media. The group was not available for comment.

State media said the “terrorists” behind the attack also stole the salaries of the victims, which they had just collected.

Anti-regime forces armed with homemade hunting rifles and other rudimentary weapons have been clashing with the military in the area since late March. 

As the military moves to crush resistance to its rule, the number of villagers forced to flee has steadily increased.

“People from a lot of villages have had to flee, and there isn’t much support,” said one 55-year-old Hnan Khar villager who has been displaced five times since the conflict began.

Residents say that soldiers torture and kill anyone they encounter in villages they suspect of harbouring anti-regime forces, including the sick and elderly.

“They are shooting everyone, even old grandpas who can’t do anything to fend for themselves,” one local told Myanmar Now.

The regime has killed more than 840 civilians nationwide since it seized power on February 1, according to figures compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The military, which does not keep a detailed record of civilian casualties, claims there have been “only about 300 deaths”.


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