Myanmar junta troops terrorise villages along Myittha River

Regime forces terrorised residents of several villages along the Myittha River in both Sagaing and Magway regions over the past week, according to local sources.

Around 100 junta troops and members of the pro-military Pyu Saw Htee militia from the village of Kyauk Pyoke in Sagaing’s Kale Township started raiding other villages in the area last Thursday, the sources said.

The raids extended into neighbouring Gangaw Township in Magway Region and continued until Tuesday, they added.

At least one person—a 35-year-old man named Mone Phe from Yae Shin Ma, a village on the western bank of the river in Gangaw Township—was tortured to death after being captured on Monday, a resident of the village told Myanmar Now.

“It looked like they strangled him with a towel before shooting him,” said the villager, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He added that the victim was likely killed because he was unable to tell soldiers where the bases of anti-regime People’s Defence Force (PDF) groups active in the area were located.

In Myintha, a village north of Yae Shin Ma, the junta troops destroyed houses and motorcycles, while in Hnankhar, another village in the same area, they killed and ate the livestock of farmers who had fled.

According to one Hnankhar villager, the regime forces also destroyed rice that had been stockpiled to feed internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in nearby forests.

“It was a year’s worth of rice for the IDPs, but the military thought it was for the PDFs, so they destroyed it,” the Hankhar local said.

It was widely believed that the latest raids in the area were prompted by a PDF attack on a police station in the village of Khin Yan last Wednesday. 

Khin Yan, along with the villages of Kyauk Phyoke, Kokka, Hanthawaddy, and Lel Gyi, are regarded as Pyu Saw Htee strongholds.

The junta column arrived in Khin Yan on Wednesday after ending its rampage with one last raid on the village of Chaung Gwa the previous day, residents said. 

According to locals involved in efforts assist IDPs, the situation has become increasingly dire, as thousands of people from at least a dozen villages have been forced to shelter in forested areas without adequate food or medical supplies.

One who spoke to Myanmar Now on Wednesday said there was also an urgent need for healthcare workers in the area, as many IDPs are suffering from deteriorating health due to their harsh living conditions.

“It was especially bad yesterday, as the military even went into the forests, shooting at everyone in sight,” he said, adding that recent heavy rains have also added to the IDPs’ hardships.

Myanmar’s junta has denied targeting civilians in its clearance operations against PDF groups and others resisting the return of military rule after a coup in February of last year.

However, well-documented atrocities have been committed on an almost daily basis in many parts of the country, with Sagaing and Magway—regions that were previously free of conflict—suffering some of the harshest treatment.

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