Myanmar junta shelling kills five civilians in eastern Bago

At least five civilians were killed last week by regime forces firing heavy artillery in eastern Bago Region’s Shwegyin Township, according to local sources.

On February 23, two women died after a shell landed on a house in Nyaungbingyi Ywar Thit, a village on the eastern bank of the Sittaung River about 10km northwest of the town of Shwegyin, a village resident told Myanmar Now.

The victims were identified as Daw Tuu, 70, and Thuzar Nwe, 34. Two others were injured in the incident and were receiving treatment in Bago General Hospital, the source said.

It was unclear why the village was targeted. However, there were reports that junta troops stationed in Pazunmyaung, a village located about 5km to the west, attempted to raid Nyaungbingyi Ywar Thit earlier in the week but were repelled by local resistance forces.

Pazunmyaung, a village of around 2,500 inhabitants located west of the Sittaung River in Nyaunglebin Township, has been occupied by regime forces since earlier this month. Most of its residents fled after villages on both sides of the river started coming under attack in late January.

The area is within the territory of Brigade 3 of the Karen National Liberation Army, an armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU). However, the KNU has not released a statement regarding recent military operations in the region.

There has also been no comment from the shadow National Unity Government, which also has troops under its command operating in the area.

Two days before the attack on Nyaungbingyi Ywar Thit, three other civilians were killed in Htaung Laung, another village on the eastern bank of the Sittaung River less than 10km from Shwegyin.

The victims, identified as Zaw Oo, Phway Phway, and Min Ko, were all related and aged between 20 and 40, according to a local source.

The source, who did not want to be named, said he had no further information about the three who were killed, except that they died of their injuries after being transferred to the hospital.

According to the source, junta troops stationed in Pazunmyaung and military columns travelling on the Nyaungbingyi-Madauk road have been a frequent target of attacks by resistance forces.

“They’ve come under attack so many times. They’re losing a lot of men,” he said, estimating that at least 20 regime soldiers had been killed in recent weeks by snipers or bombs dropped from drones.

According to one Pazunmyaung resident, many abandoned houses in the village have been looted by the soldiers stationed there.

“It’s like a free-for-all for them now that most of the residents have fled the village. So many valuable items have been stolen. You can’t even count the houses and shops that have been looted,” he said.

He added that soldiers have also been keeping a close watch on villagers who stayed behind, confiscating their phones and frequently questioning them to determine if they were acting as informants for the resistance forces.

On February 20, two trucks carrying 40 reinforcement troops arrived in Pazunmyaung, and a day later, more troops passed through on their way to another village, according to the Pazunmyaung resident.

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