More villages burn in northern Myanmar as guerrillas try to halt latest military rampage 

A unit of almost 300 junta soldiers has burned down houses in three villages near Sagaing Region’s border with Chin State this week, while resistance fighters have sought to halt their offensive by laying explosives in their path.

The assault began on Monday with the soldiers attacking the villages of Nat Myaung, Nat Chaung, Chaung Gwa and Hakha Lay in the south of Kalay Township, two People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighters and a local civilian told Myanmar Now.   

“We attacked the junta truck with explosives,” a member of the Kalay PDF said. “Because we have much less firepower, we use guerrilla warfare techniques when there is a clash.” 

The junta’s convoy is made up of 14 military vehicles and equipped with light and heavy weapons, including rocket launchers, he added. 

The resistance fighters have been unable to prevent the troops from burning down homes, he said. “They started torching Aung Chan Thar village just a few moments ago,” he said on Thursday morning.

Myanmar Now was unable to gather further details about the fire at Aung Chan Thar. The Kalay PDF said that 72 houses were burned in Nat Myaung and others were torched in Nat Chaung, though the exact number is unclear, since Monday. 

A unit of junta soldiers stationed 13 miles at the Kalay Technological University fired heavy artillery into villages where there have clashes this week, the Kalay PDF member said. 

The Kalay PDF and other resistance groups say they have killed seven junta soldiers in this week’s clashes. A member of the Chin National Defence Force who fought alongside the PDF groups was also reportedly injured.

Thousands of locals from Nat Chaung, Nat Myaung and Chaung Gwa have fled the violence, a local resident helping the displaced people said.

“Some fled into the forests and some to the monastery in Nat Myaung,” he told Myanmar Now. “The majority of those from Nat Chaung fled to the town of Kalay.” 

On Thursday the Kalay PDF issued a statement urging civilians not to travel in the south of the township. 

Smoke rises from Aung Chan Thar village at around 11am on Thursday (Supplied)

Even amid the fighting, residents of Kalay have continued to stage daily anti-coup protests this week. 

The Kalay PDF said in a statement last month that it has control of over 70% of the township’s 100 or so villages. 

The armed resistance in Sagaing has inflicted heavy casualties against the military’s ground troops despite being badly outgunned. 

The junta has responded by targeting civilians and guerrilla fighters alike with a scorched earth offensive involving mass killings, arson, indiscrimnate airstrikes and torture. It has also cut off internet access to all but a few areas of the region. 

The UN said in a report on Wednesday that Myanmar’s military has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in its bid to crush the nationwide uprising.

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