Myanmar junta carries out air attack targeting community health centre and PDF base in Myaing

Forces under the Myanmar junta carried out a Tuesday morning raid on a village in northern Myaing Township in Magway Region, where members of the anti-regime resistance were based and a community clinic is located, according to both the military and local sources. 

Troops opened fire on the village of Ma Gyi Kan from two attack helicopters which hovered over the area for more than one hour. They used sub-machine guns and rockets in the assault, said Cross, a spokesperson for the Myaing chapter of the People’s Defence Force (PDF), which operates under the command of the publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG) and opposes the junta. 

“They opened fire from both aircraft at the same time all around the village, blocking any escape routes,” he told Myanmar Now.

Using a third helicopter, the military then airlifted soldiers to the area. They proceeded to carry out a ground attack targeting the community-run clinic in the centre of Ma Gyi Kan, which was housing patients at the time of the assault. 

Map showing the location of Ma Gyi Kan and Kan Gyi villages 

The clinic opened in the aftermath of the February 2021 coup, and was staffed by striking health workers from Ma Gyi Kan and other nearby villages who had been participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. It provided medical services to hundreds of residents in northern Myaing. 

Around 300 people were arrested, including patients, villagers and health workers, according to a 30-year-old local who managed to flee. 

Cross, of the Myaing PDF, added that the Myanmar army soldiers dropped into the village from the aircraft also shot artillery shells into Ma Gyi Kan, which caused homes to catch fire. 

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the details surrounding the raid, and, at the time of reporting, the regime soldiers were still occupying the village. 

The assault marks the first time since the coup that the military has used air power to attack a PDF site in Myaing, a township that borders resistance strongholds in Sagaing Region. 

The NUG-run Public Voice Television reported the air attack on Ma Gyi Kan, noting that the military had taken several people hostage, including patients at the clinic. Resistance fighters were among those being detained by the soldiers, they said, citing a local source.

After overrunning the community clinic, the junta troops then raided a nearby base camp belonging to the Myaing PDF, but no members of the group were apprehended, Cross said, noting that he was among those who managed to flee. 

However, he added that the soldiers seized hundreds of millions of kyat worth of ammunition during the raid. 

“The ammunition that we had stored is gone. We were not able to bring much of it with us. We were able to bring weapons and guns,” Cross explained.

One hour after the raid on Ma Gyi Kan, the same troops went on to target the neighbouring community of Kan Gyi, home to 100 households. 

In a statement published in junta-run newspapers on Wednesday, the military claimed that PDF members in the area had disguised themselves as locals, and accused them of threatening and exploiting villagers and of storing weapons and ammunition there. 

“The security forces carried out the required investigation after entering the village at an unguarded moment in the morning,” the regime’s statement said. 

The military also said that a total of 30 people, 10 men and 20 women, were detained for interrogation because they were believed to be members of or have ties to the PDF, whose fighters it referred to as “terrorists.”

Both the PDF and the NUG have been previously designated by the junta as “terrorist organisations.”

During the raid on the Ma Gyi Kan clinic, the military claimed to have seized explosives, bullets, walkie-talkies, bulletproof vests, badges and uniforms belonging to the Myaing PDF and kept on-site. They also alleged that a makeshift bomb and vehicles were confiscated from a school in nearby Kan Gyi.

Myaing PDF spokesperson Cross pointed out that the village clinic was built to serve the community and posed no threat.

“I’m sure someone tipped off [the soldiers] about the clinic. It is not only for our comrades, it is mainly for locals here to be able to get necessary treatment,” he said. 

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