Multiple youth members of local defence force killed in Sagaing battle 

Some 14 members of a local resistance force were killed when plainclothes junta troops attacked the group near the village of Myo Thit in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township on Thursday.

Among those slain were teenagers: two were just 15 years old, and four were between the ages of 18 and 19. The two oldest casualties were in their 40s. 

Five more members were also injured. 

The 80 Myanmar army soldiers and pro-military members of the Pyu Saw Htee network arrived in Myo Thit in four cars and eight motorcycles on Thursday morning, but were dressed in shorts similar to those worn by some members of the resistance, locals said. 

They reportedly stationed themselves in three locations: one group at the monastery in the southeast of the village, the second in the northeast, and the third in the south, near the fence surrounding the community. 

When the defence force members went to check on the arrivals—who allegedly waved at them from the monastery—they were ambushed, with those inside the monastery opening fire, as well as those near the outer fence, according to a Myo Thit villager who witnessed the attack. 

“They weren’t wearing uniforms and they were waving at us, so we thought they were our people,” a member of the Khin-U Township defence force later told Myanmar Now.

“They were so outgunned [by the junta troops]… and they were attacked from two sides,” he added.

The Myo Thit villager described the scene as an open field where the defence force members were hit by both heavy and light weapons and sniper fire. Photos seen by Myanmar Now on Friday showed that bodies of resistance fighters were found dead in a dry paddy field next to low dikes behind which they had attempted to shield themselves from the junta’s gunfire.

“There was no place for them to hide. There weren’t even any trees. They just saw them waving and moved forwards. They were tricked,” the villager said. 

Several of the defence force members who died were reportedly killed by the rapid fire of 60mm and 40mm shells while trying to retreat. 

Because the battlefield was some 2,000 feet wide, the local man who witnessed the fight said that the military likely used long range weapons and ammunition. 

“The bullets used by the junta could go further than the typical 5.56mm and 7.62mm bullets. Those types of ammunition wouldn’t have reached the ones who got shot in the southwestern part of the village,” he added.

14 members of a local resistance force were killed in the village of Myo Thit in Sagaing Region’s Khin-U Township on February 17 (Supplied)

The battle started at 2pm and lasted two hours, with at least four local defence forces and guerrilla groups based in the region supporting the Myo Thit village defence force with makeshift muskets and revolvers, members of the groups told Myanmar Now. 

“The battle was very serious. They were using heavy weapons and automatic guns and our troops couldn’t even get up,” the leader of Khin-U Local Guerrilla Force, who goes by the name Justin, said of the military.

The defence forces have appealed for greater support in obtaining more sophisticated weapons and ammunition so that they can better challenge the Myanmar army.

“We ran out of bullets while we were trapped. We have to continue fighting this battle, but I would like to ask for the help of the rest of the country,” Krato, the information officer from local guerrilla group Armed Revolutionary Force, said. 

Locals said that the surviving members of the defence forces only managed to retrieve the bodies of those who had been killed after the junta’s forces left at 5pm. 

Residents of Myo Thit and the neighbouring villages of Kan Gyi Kone and Shwe Yamin fled when the fighting broke out. 

In the year since the military coup, there have been around 50 battles between the Myanmar army and the resistance in Khin-U. A total of 80 members of the local guerrilla forces have been killed in the township in these clashes, according to the Khin-U defence force. 

The slain resistance members were identified as: 

Aung Htet, 15

Min Thet Aung, 15

Lin Htet Aung, 18

Shwe Bhone, 18

Kyaw Htet, 19

Sai Min Htwe, 19

Ko Hline, 22

Zaw Mike, 22

Zaw Hlaing Moe, 23

Zaw Min Tun, 26

Phoe Thar Gyi, 27

Kyaw Moe, 39

Tun Tun Win, 40

Saw Htwe, 49

(Reporting by Khin Yi Yi Zaw, Maung Shwe Wah, Moe Oo and Thura Maung)

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