Myanmar junta tells villagers to flee as it carries out airstrikes in northern Mandalay Region

Junta authorities ordered thousands of villagers in northern Mandalay Region’s Thabeikkyin Township to leave their homes ahead of airstrikes carried out over the weekend, according to local sources.

Residents of seven villages near Tagaung, a town located about 200km north of Mandalay, were told to “finish relocating” by 3pm on Sunday, the sources said.

Most of the fleeing villagers have since moved to Tagaung, a man living in the town told Myanmar Now on Monday.

“There are so many displaced persons taking shelter in the monasteries and in their relatives’ houses in Tagaung now. They started coming in yesterday afternoon as they were told that the military would launch an airstrike in their area,” he said.

He added that junta-appointed village administrators used megaphones to order residents to leave.

The affected villages, including Oke Shit Kone, Maing Daing, Pay Kone, Kyauk Aik, and Nyaung Kone, are all located along the Mandalay-Myitkyina road.

One displaced villager who did not want to disclose the name of his village said that only a handful of residents stayed behind to protect their property.

“A few people stayed in the village to look after their houses and animals, but the majority had to leave,” he said. 

A man in Karenni State digs a trench as a defence against junta aerial assaults in February 2022 (Khun Hla Nyan/ Myanmar Now)

A column of around 70 junta troops from Light Infantry Battalion 88 began carrying out attacks in the Tagaung area, which is near the border with Sagaing Region, on April 13.

Since then, it has clashed repeatedly with local resistance forces. In response, the military has carried out multiple airstrikes, according to the information officer of the Tagaung People’s Defence Team.

“They launched five airstrikes in total, but we haven’t heard anything about casualties yet,” he said, adding that at least one of the airstrikes targeted an area where some displaced villagers were sheltering. 

He also claimed that the junta column had suffered many casualties in the recent clashes and was currently stationed inside a monastery in the village of Kyun Ta Pin.

Myanmar’s junta has come under widespread international condemnation for its attack last week on the village of Pa Zi Gyi in Sagaing Region’s Kanbalu Township, where an aerial assault killed more than 170 people, including dozens of children.

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