Regime forces killed at least seven civilians and two resistance fighters in a series of raids carried out in Sagaing Region’s Kawlin and Ayadaw townships over the past two days, according to local sources.
On Tuesday, a column of around 100 junta troops stationed in the town of Kawlin and another 50 soldiers based in Koe Taung Boe, a village located about 15km to the south in Kanbalu Township, began attacking villages in the western part of Kawlin Township.
During a clash that day with local defence teams near the village of Khamauk Taung, the column from Kawlin shot and killed a 27-year-old resistance fighter identified as R7, according to the information officer for Kawlin Township’s People’s Defence Team.
The following day, soldiers from Koe Taung Boe who had spent the night in Maung Kaw, one of the villages that were targeted, opened fire on residents and resistance forces who had returned believing that they had already left the area.
“We returned because someone shouted that the military was gone, but they were still there and they started shooting at us,” said the information officer.
Two people were killed in that incident—a Maung Kyaw resident in his 40s named Min Hlaing and a local resistance fighter named Kyaw Min Thein, who was in his 30s.
Another man in his 50s was later found dead near a neighbouring village. The victim, Pho Wa, was shot in the thigh while herding his cattle and bled to death, according to the information officer.
Four villagers were also abducted and taken back to Koe Taung Boe by the troops based there, he added.
Residents of around a dozen villages in western Kawlin Township were displaced by the attacks, according to statements released by local resistance groups.
Similar raids were carried out in the township late last month, killing nine anti-regime fighters and administrators, including a People’s Defence Force battalion commander.
Raids were also carried out in Ayadaw Township, some 180km south of Kawlin, resulting in the death of at least five civilians and the destruction of more than 100 homes, according to local residents.
All of the casualties were reported in the village of Taung Hmwar, which came under attack before dawn on Tuesday.
One victim in his 70s named Hla Htay was killed by an artillery shell, while another man of around the same age named Yar Nyunt died of a heart attack as a result of the explosion, locals told Myanmar Now.
Two other elderly villagers—Khin Sein, 80, and Aye Htoke, 60—died because they were unable to escape before their homes were set on fire by the regime forces.
“Khin Sein was essentially burned alive as her house caught on fire with her inside it. She was a paraplegic,” said a woman from Taung Hmwar who did not want to be identified.
The fifth victim was a man named Min Min, aged around 30, who was shot when he ran into junta soldiers while attempting to flee from the village, she added.
The junta troops left the following day, but not before setting fire to more than a quarter of the village of around 400 households. According to the woman, several men who were working in nearby fields were also abducted.
Ayadaw Township’s anti-regime People’s Administration Team claims that resistance forces control 128 of the township’s 155 villages.
Late last week, regime forces also raided two villages in western Khin-U Township, which lies between Kawlin and Ayadaw townships.
A total of 175 houses were destroyed in the villages of Kan Thit and Aung Chan after they came under attack on May 19, according to the information officer of the local defence team.
“They set fires all over Kan Thit, but they didn’t spread because it was raining that day,” he said.
He added that four junta soldiers were killed by landmines set up around the village to defend it from attacks. “They dragged the bodies into the village and ‘cremated’ them by putting them into one of the burning houses.”
Kan Thit, a village of around 300 households, was previously attacked in May and November of last year. Dozens of houses were also burned down on those occasions, the information officer said.
Reporting by Thura Maung, Myat Thwel, and Moe Oo.